Category Archives: Marathon

Nick is Coach to Half-Marathon Team

A team of over 40 people from Audi UK are preparing to take part in the 2011 Milton Keynes Half-Marathon. Many of the runners have never run before and the half-marathon presents a real personal challenge.
Nick has agreed to be their coach for the event, and has set out a training schedule and will be working with them right up until race-day.

Nick with the Half-Marathon Runners - Nick is the one with the flash on his sleeve

Nick with the Half-Marathon Runners
(Nick is the one with the flash on his sleeve)

The Milton Keynes Half-Marathon is taking place on Sunday 13 March and Nick will be there to cheer on the Audi runners, and to run the half-marathon with them.

“How to Run a Marathon” Manual now Available

I have now finished my marathon manual, I started it ages ago and had mostly completed it but some final work was required.  I finished the content and Leigh has edited it and finalised the layout and so it is now completed.  


The manual is designed for running beginners to be able to complete a marathon.  It covers all aspects of training, as well as information on warming up, stretching, and nutrition etc. etc,  Importantly, it also passes-on many of the time-saving and pain-saving tips that I have learnt over my years of training for and participating in running marathons. 


It’s a manual not to be missed if you are new to marathon running or if you want to improve your previous best marathon time.


For more information visit

London Marathon

I’ve been watching the London Marathon on TV today, as it’s not in my schedule this year, as I’m focussing on cycling for the Race Across America in June, plus as I have an injury, I’m not able to run at the moment.  But watching the runners on TV always inspires me.  Watching the stories unfold, of personal challenge and achievement, I find myself urging on complete strangers.  I find myself quite emotional seeing them achieve their dreams of completing the run, it’s a great day, with a fabulous atmosphere with crowds cheering all the way round.
Many people decide to run a marathon for the first time, after seeing the London Marathon on TV, and I would encourage you to have a go, it’s a day you’ll never forget.
If you’ve been inspired by the London Marathon and you’d love to run a marathon, tell me your burning questions and I’ll do my best to answer them for you, and don’t forget, if you have not yet claimed your free marathon training schedule, just let me know and I’ll send it to you.

How to avoid hyponatremia (can be caused by over-drinking)

The 120 mile ride on Saturday got me thinking about hydration.  I was pondering on the sad death of the young guy at the London marathon and why/how it happened.  It has been reported to be hyponatremia, or to you and me a lack of sodium in the body due to an extreme excess of water being drunk.  Any endurance sport, in fact any activity over 90 minutes requires consideration to the nutritional and hydration requirements and this needs to be calculated and practiced during training.  There are easy ways to calculate both and for now I’ll just explain in the briefest of terms how to calculate the hydration requirements.  Weigh yourself naked before your training session and then go and complete the session taking a note of how much you drink.  After the session re-weigh yourself, naked again, and for each kilogram of weight you have lost you need to consume one litre of water.  But don’t forget to take in to account any water you have already drunk during the session.  If you know that during a two hour session you will lose 2kg of weight then after the session you should consume at least two litres of water and anything up to 3 litres.  However, no more is required as this will adequately re-hydrate you.  You may also want to consider taking in some of the re-hydration fluid in the form of a sports drink as these contain electrolytes to recharge your lost body stores and are shown to increase the rate of fluid absorption back into the body.  So there you have it a simplified hydration/re-hydration strategy.  One note to add is that your hydration requirements will differ based on ambient temperature, the type of session you are doing and the amount of clothes you are wearing so the weight test should be carried out a few times in differing conditions.

Post marathon training week

I thank you for your comments referring to my last entries about the London Marathon and how it was my most enjoyable.  I reckon the conclusion of it all is that competition in life exists and the ‘establishment’ should not try to sanitise school activities so that everyone is a winner, as this just leads to disappointment later in life when kids enter the real world.

However, whilst competitiveness is important there is also a need for good sportsmanship and respect for the ‘better man’ which then gives drive and incentive to improve and win, but not at any cost!  As with all things in life there’s a balance and the trick is to strike the balance so that as an individual you benefit.  I could scribe for hours on this topic but I’ll leave it there and move on.


Hyponytremia causes death at the London Marathon

Not sure if I mentioned this before but The London Marathon had its usual share of roadside injuries, cramp, dehydration, twisted ankles etc. in fact 5,000 roadside treatments.  In addition, there were 73 hospital cases and 1 death.  Don’t get all excited about sport being dangerous as any crowd with as may people as the number of London entrants would have a death in it somewhere.  It’s just a statistics thing.  However, the death was unusual in that the deceased was young, in his early twenties and it was through Hyponytremia, or to you and me, the lack of sufficient sodium (salt) in his body to sustain proper function.  It is an ever increasing occurrence now that endurance sport is appealing to the masses and they undertake these physically tough feats without either the proper training or the proper preparation.  The guy who died though was a physical training professional which surprises me although, I believe it was his first marathon.  It goes without saying that it is a tragic end to such a young life and whilst I would of course highlight the many huge benefits that exercise can bring it should be approached properly.  Any challenge that you set yourself must be approached with the full understanding of the risks and the work required to reduce the risks to a minimum completed.


Back to Ironman training

So, after London on Sunday I was in the pool Monday morning for a 2,250 metre swim before work and a very steady run at lunchtime.  I met with one of the fairer sex from an associate company, hi Natalie, and we did a very nice 3 mile run.  Tuesday through to Thursday was the usual swim, bike and run sessions fitted in around work and then Friday was a well deserved rest day.  I must admit the week’s sessions were based on a recovery plan and from the physical viewpoint it worked.  However, after my session on Saturday, which was a 50 mile ride I did have two afternoon naps totalling about 90 minutes.  I was feeling quite tired and the naps helped.  Leigh is so very understanding and anyone entering endurance racing needs the huge support that is required by their family and friends.  Without this support your goals are unachievable!

My Saturday ride ended up with me riding to a friend’s house, Steve S via an 18 mile scenic route and then riding with Steve and Stuart, another friend, and 2 other guys around a gloriously scenic rolling route before riding home to get in 48 miles.  Steve, Stuart and friends are training for various events including The London Triathlon so they did the ride and a 3 mile run.  Anyhow, 50 miles under my belt and then on the settee for a nap, lush.


The 4 plus 2 ‘Brick’ Session

Sunday, I met with Zac, another Ironman Austria competitor and we had scheduled a 4 plus 2, which is also known as a brick session.  It consists of a bike followed by a quick transition into a run session.  Zac organised the routes, and a splendid job he did, and we managed to get in 66 miles of cycling and a 13 mile run.  I must admit during the run the London Marathon mileage the week before took its toll and I suffered a little.  Still, we did what we had planned to do and it was job done, as my brother in-law Kevin would say.  After the session I had to rush home and shower and eat in order to travel to Kent, approx 110 miles to visit my mum in hospital.  Unfortunately, she isn’t too well at the moment and it is very sad to see her suffering.  Still, she’s a tough old bird and even in the state she is in she had us laughing.  I know you won’t be reading this mum but I still want to say, I love you!  I could go on about the appalling state of the hospital and the healthcare which my mother isn’t receiving but that it’s likely to come up at a later stage so I’ll hold fire on that for the time being.


Do add your comments!

Don’t forget part of my reason for doing this blog is to encourage you to participate in sport and lead a healthy lifestyle whilst passing on hints and tips.  So, if there is any questions you want answered send me a comment and I’ll try to respond.


The week ahead

This week its back to Ironman training full on and there are miles and metres to run, bike and swim culminating at the weekend with a brick session of a 1.5 hour ride and 2 hour run one day and then after a rest day, a 120 mile ride.  No doubt after each of these there will be lots of eating and sleeping and not much DIY!

Meanwhile, keep smiling and go and do something different, after all you don’t know what tomorrow holds in store for you.

My most enjoyable marathon to date!

I was one of the thousands of entrants in yesterday’s London marathon and what a great day I had.  I was under no pressure, as I wasn’t aiming for a time and was completing the distance as part of my Ironman training.

I was going to try and pace a friend, Dan, round in under 4 hours but as things turned out the first 13 miles went according to plan and then it went a bit pear-shaped.  Dan had a slightly jippy stomach the night before the race and his training had suffered through other commitments.  The consequences of this it that the next miles got slower and slower and Dan suffered a bit.  I ended up being a Domestique for him and whilst he ran straight down the middle of the road, I zig-zagged to the water and feed stations and in the last 4 or so miles was taking sweets, which the crowds were handing out and ferrying them to Dan.  I enjoyed this and also had ample time to take in the scenery, the crowds and the atmosphere.  With 400 yards to go Dan got cramp in his left calf but after a quick massage from me we proceeded to and crossed the finish line in 4 hours 16 minutes.  Dan was pleased with the time considering his training and jippy stomach and although it was a bit slower than our target I was happy to get the miles under my belt and continued with my training today, Monday with a 2,250 metre pool session and a 45 minute steady paced run.

My steady pace around the marathon course also gave me the opportunity to take in what some of the slower runners were doing, and not doing, and this enables me to pass on some tips, advice and general knowledge about completing a marathon to you.


Prepare for Sun

The day turned out to be the warmest so far this year and many people didn’t prepare for it.  People were getting sunburnt as they didn’t put on suntan lotion, others were getting heat stroke as they weren’t wearing head protection and many were falling by the wayside through generally overheating and lack of hydration.  There were others that were hydrating but not taking in enough electrolytes from sports drinks and were also suffering badly and there were many people cramping up due to inadequate hydration and electrolyte intake.  Regardless of how fit you are but particularly for those new to marathon running you need to try and think your race through and prepare for the many varied conditions a race can throw at you.  If you generally suffer from heat stroke and always wear a hat in the summer, why would you not do the same in a long race?  In my view you can’t over prepare for a race and your goal is to finish as quickly and as stress free as possible.

Some mistakes to avoid

I saw other classic mistakes being made.  Whilst I felt very sorry for one poor guy it was an incident which was avoidable.  Drink and feed stations are busy hectic areas of the course.  A little common sense and etiquette can make life easier for every one.  People enter a feed station area and instead of filtering towards the edge of the course sometimes do a 90 degree turn.  This causes other to bump in to them as they are effectively stopping from going forward and you can get hurt.  So try and filter to the sides where the water and feed stations replenish you.  Once you pick up your vessel of sustenance don’t try to open it straight away if it has a top on.  As I have said, feed stations are busy places and everyone tries to open the vessel with the consequence that they aren’t concentrating on where they are running.  So, run out of the station until the body of runners are settled back in to their pace and then concentrate on getting your water/carb drink onboard.  This allows you to focus on other runners within the feed station areas to avoid contact and run steadily and feed when back to a steady pace.  It also allows you to avoid what the poor runner I mentioned earlier did.  He was concentrating on opening his water and not looking at where he was running.  Unfortunately, he found beneath his foot a discarded bottle with the result that he turned his ankle badly and his race was over.  So there are two things you can do to help this type of incident, discard your bottles to the edge of the course and concentrate on running within the feed stations and only take your focus off the road ahead until you are clear of the busy feed station areas.

One other snippet of interest.  At the sports drink stations the sticky, sugary liquid coats the floor and as it starts to dry it becomes very tacky and for a few steps it can feel like you are running with Velcro on your shoes.  It’s nothing to worry about but better warned than surprised.


Ensure adequate carbs intake

On Sunday people were hydrating reasonably well.  At least there were a lot of bottles of water being taken from the stations but many people were taking a few small mouthfuls and then throwing the remainder away.  This isn’t too bad as the water stations at
London are very frequent.  The sports drink stations however, are roughly 5 miles apart and people were again also taking the sports drink and only taking a couple of mouthfuls before throwing the remainder.  This is a big mistake as over the distance of a marathon you will need a carbohydrate top up and sports drinks also have salt and electrolytes which help to top up lost supplies and fend off cramps and a reduction in your body’s sodium content.  That is one of the reasons I think so many people were struggling.  The sports drink packs are 330ml and easily carried between stations.  One pack every 45 to 60 minutes would have been an adequate intake to introduce a carb lift and maintain the body’s electrolyte levels.


Careful if you sprint to the finish

My final point is that there is a mental lift over the last two or so miles of a marathon for a lot of people as the end is almost in sight and the crowds are really going for the support and noise to coax the runner on.  However, beware if you increase your pace and stride length it is highly likely that cramp will strike.  If you do want to increase your speed try building it more gradually and if at any time you feel a cramp twinge then back off straight away.  Getting cramp isn’t the end of your marathon though as you can self massage and stretch the affected muscles but whilst you are doing this the clock is still ticking and your goal time could be slipping away.

Nothing now until the race.

It is Friday of the week before the London marathon and I have a couple of rest days.  I did a 3,000 metre swim this morning but it was all very relaxed and I was wetsuit clad.  I thought I would let the wetsuit see the light of day and have a really easy swim.  If you have never swum in a wetsuit, it is really easy as you are very buoyant compared to normal, making the swim position much more streamline and hence easier to move through the water.  I really enjoyed it.

I had a steady 60 minute run yesterday lunch time but it has been a really easy week for me.  I hope that my really steady London marathon doesn’t hold any shocks in store for me and that I can get Dan round in his target time.

This evening I am off to London to collect my race stuff (number, champion chip etc.) and will have a good nose around the exhibition and see what I can put on my Christmas list to Santa.

I am feeling a bit tired but otherwise OK and of course as soon as the London marathon is over and done on Sunday, I am back in to Ironman training with two sessions on Monday consisting of a 2,250 metre swim session in the morning and a 45 minute run session later.  Only 10 weeks to go now to Austria and so after this last week of rest the big push starts before the taper for the Ironman.  I have planned a three week taper and I am really looking forward to it.  Still, must keep focused as there is still many miles to swim, cycle and run before July.

I haven’t really mentioned it to date but I have been carb loading a bit for London and I will cover carb loading in a future blog in more depth closer to Austria.

All for now