Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

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 »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Much Do Marathon Runners Get Paid?

Image by bignoseduglyguy via Flickr

Image by bignoseduglyguy via Flickr

As I finished a 14-miler last weekend I passed two runners coming in the other direction. These two chaps, virtually sprinting, were about 7 feet tall and didn’t have an ounce of fat on them. If you’d have cooked them up and made a jogger-burger you’d still be chewing the meat a week later. These two were as toned as they come.

I’d manage to finish my 14-mile training run in about 2 hours 10 minutes (not bad going considering I was taking it easy). Who knows at what stage these two runners were. But just from the look of their posture, the length of their stride and the clothes they were wearing you could tell that they were professionals. Or at least ran for more than a hobby.

This got me thinking. How much of a lifestyle change do you have to make to become a professional runner? How much competition is there? What sort of money are we talking for a race win? How fast do you really have to be?

Read the rest of this entry »

Preparing for that long run:

Dust off those trainersBe honest, how many of you have thought about entering a marathon, confident in your mind that it doesn’t look that hard? If a 101 year-old plumber can trot around drinking beer and still finish, then what’s stopping you, right?

Cut to two months later. You have your place, you’ve got your new trainers and you’re about to go on your first long-distance run. Off you go…

3 hours later, you stumble home; pale, knackered, nipples bleeding and chafing so bad that you look like you’ve won first place in a John Wayne look-a-like competition. Slumped on your sofa you think to yourself, what went wrong?

A common mistake in training for a long-distance run is starting too strong too soon. Prepare well and you should have no trouble achieving your goals.

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REVIEW: Lausanne Half Marathon

Lausanne MarathonEvery October since 1992, the city of Lausanne, Switzerland plays host to the Lausanne Marathon. With over 10,000 participants, and a number of different races on the day, the event is set over one of the most stunning backdrops in the world, Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps.

There are 9 different events to choose from on the day. Obviously the main event is a full marathon, but also available to participate in is a quarter marathon, 10km walk, ‘mini’ races for children and a handcyles half marathon. However, the most popular distance (with over 3000 more entrants than the full marathon) is the half marathon.

The starting point is a 20 minute train journey away from the finish line, in La Tour-de-Peilz, a cool 13.1 miles away. Handily, your running number is your train fare, but the train runs almost side-by-side with the running route, painfully showing you just how far you have to run to reach the finish line back in Lausanne.

Read the rest of this entry »

9 Greatest Physical Obstacles That Joggers Face:

Jogging obstaclesIf only we each had a personal running track.

When going for a jog, most of us like to change up our routes from time to time. Doing laps of your nearest field gets boring quickly and there is only so much treadmill running a human can take before they’ve counted every single brick in the walls of their gym.
But beware! Venturing out onto tarmac new brings with it dangers lurking in places you’d never expect. Luckily, we’ve compiled together the top 9 obstacles you might face while out on the road. Keep your eyes peeled.

Read the rest of this entry »

REVIEW: British Military Fitness


It’s the same story for anyone with a gym membership. You have the tools around you to get fitter but if you workout on your own are you really going to push yourself that little bit further? You know you’d achieve much better results if you had a personal trainer, but after a little research you find that your bank balance will be the only thing getting a workout!

This weekend I attended a class that poses a possible solution to the problem. Each Saturday (or most Saturdays) when I begin my early morning run in Greenwich Park, I’ll pass a bunch of people wearing coloured bibs, usually led by a burly bloke in camouflaged trousers shouting and screaming. These are the British Military Fitness classes.

The British Military Fitness (BMF) classes are the UK’s leading outdoor fitness provider. They are led by a qualified instructor (all of whom have a military background) and each class consists of a one-hour session of exercises that will push you to your absolute limits.


When I turned up at 9am to start the class on Saturday morning I had a chat with one of the instructors about my basic level of fitness. I explained that I’d run the marathon back in April and that I was a regular gym goer. This turned out to be an error as he threw me straight into the intermediate class. The classes are broken up into the groups; beginner (blue bibs), intermediate (red bibs) and advanced (green bibs).

Donning my red bib, we immediately started off with a 10-minute warm up and jogged off into Greenwich park. This was focused on getting the heart rate up and consisted of plenty of running exercises (short sharp bursts of speed with rapid changes in direction) and a lot of movement (designed to get the muscles adequately stretched). Because the group was so large (roughly 40 people) we were split up into two. I later found out that the instructors had decided the groups based on what they had seen from you in the warm-ups and tiered them slightly. Apparently I was lower-tier material, which was probably about right.

Our group was led off further around the park, stopping at different points to perform a batch of exercises before moving on. These exercises are largely based on building your core muscle groups. All the instructors have to work with is the park and your body. There are no weights or special tools so the exercises use your own body-weight against you. There were plenty of press-ups, sit-ups and squat exercises during the course of the hour.

One of the best elements of the class is the camaraderie between those attending. Most people (especially the new starters like myself) were initially quite quiet and timid. This really didn’t last long as you’re thrown into exercises with partners. Everyone there was fantastic. I had 5 or 6 different partners throughout the course of the hour and each one of the them was vigorous and encouraging. Considering they were strangers this was incredibly refreshing, especially in a city where the only words you’ll utter to someone you don’t know are “2 pints of lager please”.

They do try to pair you off with someone of similar size and weight. During one exercise we were required to push against one another in an effort to force your opponent over an imaginary line between you. The chap I was paired off with gave me a little wink, said “I’m a rugby player”, dug his heels in and launched me backwards! I reckon I’ll ‘av him after a few more classes.

Overall these classes are an excellent way of staying in shape. Coupled with a running schedule, the BMF would be an ideal way of training for an upcoming race and, based on how I’m feeling today (three days after the class), I’d imagine you’d shed some serious pounds. For the price of a gym membership you can attend these classes as many times a week as you’d like. I’d honestly recommend these classes to anyone. Everyone is incredibly friendly (a few members took me out for a coffee afterwards) and I was in no way made to feel intimidated. Your first class is free and there’s no obligation to sign up if it’s not for you.

The only negative feedback I can report from the day is the lack of water breaks. It was pretty warm on the weekend and we only stopped twice for a quick gulp of water. Considering the intensity of the workout, I didn’t feel that this was enough. Also, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed the session if the weather hadn’t been so good. Winter is only around the corner…


Sir Win A Lot

Like what you’ve heard? Well the team at British Military Fitness are kindly giving away one month’s free membership to the BMF classes to 5 lucky SJAL readers! The courses are based all over the UK and, if you’re a winner*, you can select any BMF venue you’d like to attend.

You can enter in one of two ways. Either…

  1. Post a message on Twitter by clicking this link or…
  2. Answer the following question:

Which BMF class was I put in during my introductory session?

A. Beginner

B. Intermediate

C. Advanced


*Winners will be contacted either by email or Twitter and announced on 1st September. Your email address will in no way be distributed to third parties.

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