Archive for the ‘Races’ Category

Upping the Pace:


20.1 miles in 2:41:40

March is always a big month in training for the London Marathon. It’s the month that the majority of the longer training runs are completed and it’s usually at around this point that I’ll get a feel for how the training is progressing, and whether I’ll need to adjust my target or not.

When I first attempted the marathon in 2009, I was aiming for a sub-4 hour marathon. Ah, the blissful ignorance! Swanning from gym to gym, treadmill running through the colder months and doing absolutely no speed or interval training whatsoever. And when I ran a 19-miler on March 21st 2009 in 3:20:00 and realised that a 4-hour marathon wasn’t going to be achievable, I was bitterly disappointed. It was a tough truth to face, knowing that I hadn’t done enough and I remember feeling very naive. That year I completed London in 4:45:51.

In contrast, today I ran 20-miles in 2:41:40.

Over the last month I’ve put in some good mileage at pace. I’ve been running 5 and 7 mile loops around Hyde Park with a chap who’s running the MDS (sponsor him here) and I’ve kept up my twice weekly speed sessions. During these sessions, my short distance times have improved dramatically. In training, I’m running 7-miles at a 7:25-min/mile pace and managing to keep up with the editor of Runner’s World magazine during our not-quite-5K handicap race (a man who last year ran a 3:08 marathon in Boston). And after a 16-miler a few weeks ago produced a surprising result, I decided to adjust my marathon target-time again.

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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 »

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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London Marathon Fights Back At Channel 4:

Image by shimelle via Flickr

Image by shimelle via Flickr

An advert for a show on Channel 4 caught my attention last week. The show, entitled Tracing the Marathon’s Millions, would follow journalist Ben Laurence as he looked into the costs involved in staging the London Marathon and the amount of money the race organisers actually pay out to charity.

Skip forward to the morning prior to the programme and the London Marathon issue a statement saying:

The London Marathon Limited and the London Marathon Charitable Trust Limited totally deny any allegations of wrongdoing and are surprised and shocked at the lack of evidence presented by the programme’s so-called investigative team to support this desperate attempt to undermine one of the world’s finest sporting events.

Translation; take Friday’s show with a pinch of salt.

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Sport Relief in Bristol:

In support of Sport ReliefWith a month to go until the London Marathon, I was feeling decidedly guilty about having absolutely no warm-up races booked in. Last year I’d managed to scrape into the Eastbourne Half-Marathon, but a combination of forgetfulness and ‘waiting until pay day’ had meant that I’d missed my opportunity to enter most of the unofficial pre-marathon warm-up races (like the Adidas Silverstone Half). So when an old school friend organised a reunion in the form of a 1, 3 or 6-mile run for Sport Relief in Bristol, I launched in.

For those that aren’t aware, every two years the people at Comic Relief and BBC Sport team up to raise a massive amount for charity, as well as uniting the sporting community and providing an entertaining night of TV for the British public. This year’s main celebrity contribution has come from Eddie Izzard, who ran 43 marathons in 52 days in aid of this cause (painful ice-bath video here). The Sport Relief Mile allows individuals from all over the country to run a mile and get friends and family to sponsor them. Money raised will either go to some of the poorest countries in the World, or will stay at home to help underprivileged people in the UK.

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