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Marathon Training : A strange case of lack of pre-race nerves

I’ve got a marathon in 11 days. I’m not feeling anxious, there’s no nerves. The days are counting down but there isn’t a noticeable building of anxiety, fretting or fear of what’s coming.

Maybe it will come next week? At the moment I feel a (strange to me) calm.

Maybe it’s just the eye of the storm? Maybe next week will be a hurricane of mixed emotions – nerves, elation, fear of failure, giddy anticipation of the starting line.

I’m hoping not. I mean, I don’t want to go into the marathon like an ice man, that would indicate hubris and unbridled arrogance (and that I’m a bit of a d*#% – no-one gets to be arrogant going into a marathon). But, at the same time being a bundle of nerves, self-doubting and anxious isn’t the way to run well either. Somewhere in the middle would be perfect. Read the rest of this entry


Thursday Training Tip #6

Running on vacation : 10 tips for keeping fit while travelling

The toll lady was, disappointingly, unsurprised to see me. It seems many walkers and runners make the switchback-upon-switchback climb up Mount Igeldo in San Sebastián. And it would seem that runners and walkers are also not exempt from the €2 toll to enter the grounds of one of the best located fairgrounds going around, even if they have run up the back way and are more interested in running down the other side of the mountain than going on the dodgem cars. It’s funny where running takes you sometimes. Certainly when I set out to do the 20km loop from Urgill Hill to Mount Igeldo on a Saturday morning in San Sebastián I was not expecting to find a fairground at the summit!

Sab Sebastian seen from the summit of Mount Igeldo

Sab Sebastian seen from the summit of Mount Igeldo

But, that’s the beauty of running in new places, and running while on vacation. My running kit is always the first stuff into my case whenever I go away. Mainly because it’s small and fills the little crevices in the bottom of my case, but also because it signals to me my intention to keep exercising while away and to hopefully see new things while doing it.

However, while going for long runs while on vacation is all good, vacations aren’t meant to be all about running, or whatever exercise takes your fancy. It’s about experiencing the places you visit, the culture, the food, the landscape and the people, so you can’t always be following your training schedule. That doesn’t mean you need to throw out your training schedule completely. You’ve worked hard up to your vacation (especially if you’ve worked for a ‘beach body’ for a seaside destination), so you don’t want to throw it all away to pursue a week or two of hedonism. Read the rest of this entry

Thursday Training Tip #3

Treshold Training – Run Faster to Run Further


Threshold training (often called tempo running) consists of running at your maximum aerobic output in a ‘steady state’. Because threshold training requires you to run at your maximum aerobic ‘steady state’ it is an excellent way to train for endurance running and races which require this type of running. It is also a great way to add variety to your workout and give you that ‘fast running’ feeling that is so easy to lose if you are constantly pushing out long distances. Here’s a link to my page about using threshold training to improve your distance running.

The term ‘threshold’ refers to the point where your body reaches its maximum aerobic output (energy derived from converting glycogen and oxygen). Beyond this point, any additional energy requirements must be met by your anaerobic metabolism (energy derived from converting glucose and glycogen without oxygen). As with most thresholds, there is a danger if you cross the line. If you work too hard you run the risk of too large a contribution of anaerobic metabolism to your energy supply, which leads to an accumulation of lactate and also rapid fatigue. It’s about control. And the best control is your heart rate monitor. You will need to do a physical test to determine your optimum heart rate, so make sure you’re fit and healthy before you embark on this. My page on threshold running has a couple of tests you can do to determine your threshold rate.

So, keen to give threshold training a go? Great! Your threshold sessions can vary, but typically it’s advised to do between 20-40 minutes of threshold running in a single session. If you’re experienced you might do this in a single ‘steady state threshold run’, but if you’re new to running or threshold running you might want to try repeats. These are best done to time, like say 4×6 minute threshold runs, with 3 minute recovery jog in between repeats. If you’re someone who needs distance targets, try mile repeats, or some distance that equates neatly into your run

Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind for your workouts:

  1. Threshold training is a tough workout and you need to complete a thorough warm-up and cool down. Start your workout with some Dynamic Stretching, followed by slow jogging to gradually raise your heart rate. Follow a cool down routine after your workout, and don’t forget your static stretching
  2. Doing repeats? Recovery breaks between repeats should either be walking or slow recovery jogging. These breaks are also a good time to refuel/rehydrate.
  3. Want to use threshold as part of half or full distance marathon training. Try a TLT workout to combine the effects of threshold training and your long-slow run.
  4. Threshold sessions are hard work, make sure the following day is a rest or recovery day so you can continue with quality workouts and avoid overtraining issues.
  5. Make sure you’re having fun doing it! You have to want to do these sessions otherwise you’ll just start skipping them. Focus on the improvement they bring to your fitness and speed!

Threshold training is a proven way to make you a faster and stronger runner. It will also make you more efficient so in endurance events you can go the distance on less energy. I use threshold training in my running schedule and during my buildup to distance races, and they are often some of my most rewarding runs. Sure, they may be hard work at the time, but that feeling of freedom that comes with running fast is hard to find anywhere else! If you’re looking for some more info, here’s the link to my page on threshold training once more.

Happy running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running!

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Related Articles:

Article: Threshold Training : Run Faster to Run Further

Blog post: Threshold-Long-Threshold : Training for distance events

Blog post: Threshold Training

The next race : British 10k London Run

My race pack for the British 10k London Run has arrived!


Nothing too fancy in this race pack:

  • A race number complete with tear-off baggage tag – better than separate sticker to lose I guess.
  • Loads of safety pins – enough for the number, baggage tag and some spares. Very thoughtful.
  • A great race brochure – complete with advice about the race and good information for runners of all ages and skill levels.
  • One of those info maps with discounts around the race – great for those coming into London for the race
  • A very sweet hand written card from the charity I am running for – Body&Soul
  • I get my running shirt next week at the charity presentation – I’ll let you know about it after I’ve received it.

10 days and a wake-up before the race…

So, how prepared am I?

Physically – Not very prepared. The distance should not present a problem however I have not been running regularly lately, and haven’t done any threshold or tempo runs so I have no idea what sort of pace I can run at over the distance. Going to have to trust the heart rate on my Garmin and see what pace that throws out I guess. I doubt negative splits are going to be on the cards…

Mentally – Quite well prepared. The distance is something I’ve run many times before, so I know I will be able to get around the course. I have reconciled recent injuries and training irregularity with the fact I will not be in good form for a fast race.

My race plan is therefore ‘relaxed’. I’m going to make sure I enjoy this race for the race itself!

It’s a fantastic race, I’m running for a very worthwhile charity, and the course is along the riverfront of one of the best cities in the world. Big Ben, Westminster, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the London Eye are some of the famous landmarks you run past.


No wonder this is London’s premier 10k race!

Happy running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running!

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