January – All roads lead to London


As we entered 2018 there was only one thought for me…..marathon training was imminent! As someone who has never trained for a specific event before, this was all new to me and a bit hard to take. Up until now all Iv done is the odd 10k road race here and there and fell races, all of which I haven’t felt the need to train out of the ordinary and just do what I do. Being sensible though I knew I wasn’t going to stand a chance at London if I didn’t get a bit of help and guidance, and some structured training, so I took the plunge and decided on a lactate test….

The Lactate Test

Id heard about these Lactate test for sometime, and the results runners were achieving from them. As much as it interested me previously, I never felt the need before as I wasn’t aiming for any big results. Yes, of course I wanted to be faster, but it wasn’t important to me and I was slowly getting better results on the fells as time went on, so I didn’t bother with it.

As January came around though I was aware that training for London had to start, and I couldn’t just turn up at the start line on 22nd April on my current training regime, so I had to do something. The lactate test blew my mind, the information I got out of it about my body was amazing, with the main piece of info I took away was that for the last 3 years of running Iv not actually been touching my potential. The test finds out what your lactate threshold is, then shows you how to train to that using your heart rate, and basically Iv very rarely ran near my threshold!

After the 2 hour test I was given a training plan aimed at London, which would hopefully help me towards a sub 3hr marathon time. The training plan is like nothing iv ever done before, the sheer quantity of it was going to take a commitment of which Iv never had the motivation to do before, and the effort of the runs are also significantly harder than any training Iv done previously.

This was, and is, going to be a real test of my physical, and mental strength, but I’m hugely determined and want to come away from London in April thinking that the hard work had paid off.

Treadmill session of the lactate test

The Training

The plan I was given consists of running 5 days a week, which mainly includes – 1 recovery run a week, 2 threshold runs, 1 tempo run, and then the standard long run on a Sunday. I quite enjoyed having some structure and routine to my training at first, and I found running to heartrate quite interesting which made the runs that little easier. The pace was a bit of a shock though, as even the recovery run was quicker than what I was use to. I know that the idea of the plan though is to get your body use to running at a quick pace, so that when your marathon comes along you can sustain the pace easier for longer.

This was all fun for the first 10 days, but then I started to struggle with the training……10 days in!! The commitment was getting hard, as juggling 12 hour shifts at work, family life which includes a 2 year and a partner who equally enjoys training, and then an hour of running was becoming a choir. The main difficultly I was, and still are finding though, are the niggles I’m getting. As a fell runner the majority of my training is done on trails, soft ground with loads of cushion, where now I’m doing 40-50 miles a week on tarmac, and Iv developed pains in my knee and foot. The knee issue was sore but I was managing to run on it, with just the occasional twitch which made me stop for a few seconds. However, I think nursing a dicky knee has had some impact on my opposite foot, causing it to be quite painful and swell. I am still managing to run on this as well, but I do need rest days more often and some ice on it regularly to keep it ok to run on. I know I should really rest for a lot longer than a day or two to completely sort the niggles out, but I don’t want to loose too many training days to niggles. Wrong attitude I know, but that’s just me.

Taking precautions on injuries

Aside from the actual training there is the diet, which I thought would be the hardest part for me with this whole marathon training. Up until now Iv been fortunate to always eat and drink what I want and its never effected me, and because of this Iv never had the best diet. There wasn’t a day went past where I didn’t have chocolate, and pre packed sarnies for dinner, and most evenings id have a beer or two. Also, I never drank much water a day, and most days I wouldn’t drink any. Iv made a massive effort to change though which has surprised those around me, who also doubted me changing my diet. Iv hardly touched any sweet stuff this month, drank beer, and I’m consuming around 2 litres of water a day…….and I’m pretty proud of myself!

So what will February bring?

With January being the first month of training, it was a case of me just getting use to the change of lifestyle and adapting to the new training programme. Like I said earlier, I have found it hard at times but I’m enjoying seeing the improvements I’m making and its giving me all the incentive and motivation I need to keep at it.

Thankfully though, February brings with it some racing, and more importantly some fell races!! My first race of the month was today, a 10k road race in Dewsbury. Its known to be a flat fast course so I entered it with the aim for a PB, sub 36. I put a lot of pressure on myself for this, and said that I didn’t get a sub 36 then Id never manage a sub 3hr at London. I know this is nonsense but it was motivation for me, and it spurred me on…….and it worked! I ended up coming home with a new PB of 35:44 and even got a 5k pb in the process. It has set me up for a great month of training and a couple of fell races.

I really can’t wait to get back in the fells as its seemed ages since I was last there. As much as I’m enjoying seeing past splits and pb’s, I can’t wait to get back in the hills where you don’t really care about times and positioning, you just enjoy the adventure of it and the place your at.

Kinder Down Fall
Fell running. My happy place.

So that’s month 1 of training for London Marathon. There’s already been some ups and downs, and some huge commitment, but I’m already seeing some improvement in my fitness and running. Hopefully February will be a little less stressful with some enjoyable races……..watch this space.


Looking Ahead

Donny 10k
PB at Doncaster 10k, coming in at 36:17

A Quick Look Back

Before I start waffling on about what goals and plans Iv got for 2018, I suppose it would be nice to have a quick reflection on the year just gone, because it was a big year for me and my running. Iv only been running 3 years so 2017 hasn’t got much competition, but out of the three years Iv been doing this sport, 2017 was a different class to the two years previous to it. I considerably upped my mileage last year to the previous years, and I competed in significantly more races two, hitting a total of 49 races/Parkruns.  I managed a good combination of fell races and Parkruns within those 49, and just 1 trail race and 2 road races to make the numbers up. I achieved numerous PBs in the fell running, and even winning my first prize in the sport on the last day of the year at the Oxpsring Amble’s Revenge fell race, coming 4th overall but 3rd in my age group. Iv also managed to get a 5k PB at Parkrun back in July (17:36) and a 10k PB at the Doncaster 10k in November (36:17), both of which were way above my expectations when I set my targets for 2017 last January. This leads me on to this year, as unlike last year I need to believe in myself a little more and set the bar higher, set goals that are hard to reach but will make me push.

The Goals

Up until now Iv just gone through the motions (no pun intended) with the running really, training regularly and putting the time in but nothing really structured or focused, just the same sort of distances at the same sort of pace. This year I’m going for it, I want to hit new heights and achieve things that I didn’t think was possible this time last year.

The main focus Iv got this year is the London Marathon. As a fell runner I never thought Id be doing a Marathon, especially London! I applied through the Ballot just on a spur of the moment thing, and the next thing you know Iv got a place. This means I cant just steadily train through the week and turn up and race like I do with the fell races, this is all a bit strange for me knowing I have to train properly and to a plan for this, and weeks in advance. I am really looking forward to the challenge of the training though and the race itself. My target time is sub 3 hours, which I know is a tall order but Iv got some experienced running friends around me to guide me in the right direction, and I’m determined to put the time and effort in. I’m very lucky to have this opportunity so I taking it by the scruff of the neck and going for it!

Its not all about London for me though, I’m somebody who loves competing and its why I do this sport, so I need to be racing regularly. Iv got a lot on this year away from running, we’re moving house in a few months and are also getting married in August, so a lot of my time will be focused on that. I do however want to try and get to as many fell races as I possibly can, just because its what I love doing more than anything and I want to achieve some good things with it.


Kinder Down Fall
Kinder Down Fall Fell race 2017

Fell running aside I want to try and do a few more road races than I did last year, for the main reason that its where you achieve PBs. Fell running is just about going out for an adventure for me. Yes I want to run it as fast as I can and finish as high up the field as I can, but its not driven on miles per minutes and an that jazz, which is what I like about it. However, it is a buzz to run a fast road race and get a PB, so I want to compete in a few more this year and hopefully get some PBs……..

2018 Targets

1mile - sub 5mins
5k - sub 17mins
10k - sub 36mins
London - sub 3 hour

I will be entering a half marathon prior to London as its part of the plan, but I haven’t set a target time for a half as Iv never done one before or have any indication on what sort of time I’m aiming for. They’re are a few other events I want to take part in too, the South Yorkshire Cross Country being one of them. I managed to get to the last race of the series last year, my first ever cross country run, and I loved it, so Id like to complete in those this year.

I know its all a lot with everything Iv got going off this year, especially with work which takes a lot of my time up, which it does for most us, but I’m sure with some dedication and determination I can achieve it.

I’m really excited for this year, I feel really focused and determined to be my best……this is my year!!!