Love Run 10k + marathon training update

Damien Clarkson after the Love Run 10k  (picture by Ivo Gormley)

Damien Clarkson after the Love Run 10k (picture by Ivo Gormley)

Whisper it quietly but I think the pissing wind that has plagued runners for months might have disappeared. Bring on the Spring! Or at the very least some cold and dry weather.

In just 13 weeks and 2 days I will have completed my first marathon. Currently I feel the Edinburgh marathon is looming above my head like a giant zeppelin about to drop a bombardment of ruined feet, shattered hamstrings and chaffed legs.

You would think that following a 16 week plan would leave me brimming with confidence. But boy would you be wrong. I have realised marathon training is hardcore, the sheer amount of miles, the tight muscles, the lack of sleep and destruction of your social life. These are all key elements of marathon training. And I have just taken a work contract at Government Digital Services. And although this is a superbly flexible forward thinking workplace, I am going to be spending more of my time tied to a desk not able to just drop my work and go running when the mood takes me. Scary!

So you would be right in thinking that I am struggling to hit my target miles at the moment. Last week I completed just 16 miles but this did include recording a new PB in the Finsbury Park Love Run 10k. Powered by a 8 banana smoothie, I kept my record of recording a PB in every race since I started writing this blog back in September. I recorded a chip time of 46:13 coming in 53rd out of 293 runners.

Damien Clarkson running the Love Run 10k  (picture by Ivo Gormley)

If you went out running last Saturday you will know how crazy the wind was. Everyone who took part in that race last Saturday or just went for a run anywhere deserves huge credit. It was literally insane, so much so that I got blown to a literal stop running for the finish line.

I was running with team GoodGym last Saturday. Everyone of us put in a wholehearted performance and super speedy Shaun Dixon won the race at a canter. GoodGym Founder, Ivo Gormley took some wonderful pictures I have shamefully borrowed for the site (thanks Ivo) and in other exciting news GoodGym is now an affiliated UK athletics running club. As if you needed another reason to come along and take a look if you live in London. I am already dreaming of the wicking t-shirt I am going to be able to buy with my cumulative £2 pound race entry savings.

I also made a video of the race below. Please give it a watch and perhaps give it a like and subscribe.


What else happened in the last 2 weeks. Well my Garmin 210 decided to stop working, meaning I lost 3 very average miles on Strava. Luckily I was able to exchange it for a new watch today, hopefully this Garmin lasts more than 4 months.

I am also just about the enter the Hackney Half Marathon at the end of June. I am so excited about running the streets of the area I have lived in for the past 4 years. I would love it if you came and ran this race with me.

Screenshot 2014-02-21 19.20.25

If you are training for a marathon how is it going? How do you squeeze the miles in? Also does anyone have an April half marathon they would recommend?

Tomorrow I will be running for 1:20 hr taking my weekly mileage up to around 18 miles. 13 weeks to go, I am nervous but still just about optimistic.

Damien

Advertisements

Beautiful Hackney running

Another week where I achieved my Jantastic run target.

Another week where I achieved my Jantastic run target.

Consistency matters! I am generally ok at getting my weekly mileage in but this week boy did I not want to run. Most of my runs this week came after hours of sitting around in my running gear, only the embarrassment of having to change out of it got me out the door.

Luckily being my own boss means I can pick when I run, which generally is when the weather is at its mildest and driest. And as always I was rewarded with stunning scenery. East London was recently described in a survey of Londoners as ‘grimy’ but the East London I see has everything you could want. Culture, marsh land, huge parks, independent shops, canals, great places to socialise. I also think it is pretty darn good for running; a couple of extra hills wouldn’t go amiss but when you get treated to views like this when you’re running you can’t complain.

Clissold Park on Monday afternoon as the sun was coming down.

Clissold Park on Monday afternoon as the sun was coming down.

Leyton Marsh taken on my Saturday 7 miler.

Leyton Marsh taken on my Saturday 7 miler.

Like pretty much every week, I did my Monday run, this week a 4 and half miler to Clissold Park. I then ended up not  running again until Friday when I ran to and from my personal training session with Ade. This week we again focused on core work and running posture and form. I was back on the treadmill again and things are lining up quite nicely with my running. She has given me more exercises to work on improving my core strength and posture.

Saturday saw me embark on another epic episode of procrastination before heading off on a lovely run to Hackney Marsh, it was 7 miles my longest since my injury and simply beautiful weather and thoroughly enjoyable.

My Saturday run

My Saturday run

My mind is starting to turn to marathon training which I start on the first Monday in February. I am feeling nervous but excited, so if you’re in London and training for a marathon and want a running partner please give me a shout.

Thanks for being amazing and reading my blog. Your comments and support always inspires me.

Damien xx

January when champions are made

After the 1 mile time trial

We’re now approaching the end of January. The Christmas present trainers are muddy and the new year resolution runners lacking in commitment have disappeared from our streets. January is the when champions are made. Ok, well Spring marathon runners at the very least.

This week has seen me continue on my comeback from injury clocking up a happy 12.7 miles running. I highly recommend kicking off the week with a Monday run, I know this isn’t exactly a ground shattering revelation but I honestly believe running early in the week is the key to ticking off your mileage target.

Embracing the unpredictable weather is in my mind also key to happy January running. I like to think of huge puddles as a fun obstacle and focus on the fact that in freezing cold weather you burn fat quicker; equalling me becoming a lighter faster runner on race day.

On Tuesday I ran with GoodGym Hackney, we were working with the brilliant charity Streetbank delivering flyers in the areas their members live. I had heard about Streetbank before and it was great to find out more about the work they do getting neighbours to help each other out by lending each other useful items or skill swapping. The run was incredibly enjoyable and again we had a huge turnout (I think the biggest Hackney GoodGym run). It is always great to meet other runners in my local area and because of the nature of GoodGym e.g. doing good in the local community the people who come along are always incredibly interesting.

Ade the GoodGym trainer also set us a purely running challenge to run a 1 mile circuit of London Fields. I was annoyingly busting to wee but I thought I would give it a decent go, after a few laps it was clear if I wanted to be the first to finish I would need to run faster than my body was physically up to. A 35 mile cycle on the Sunday and 4 runs in 5 days had taken its toll. Despite that I still was one of the first runners to finish recording a 6:28 mile. We will be running this lap again in 8 weeks, I will be in marathon training then and it would be great to bring that time down and go below the 6:12 mile I ran back in October.

On Friday morning I went running with my friend Clare and her dog Watson. Clare is a great running partner and I always enjoy our chats and Watson is just great fun in his never ending search for the biggest possible stick he can carry. I proceeded to go straight from my 4 and half mile run to my first personal training session with Ade (mentioned earlier).

On the way to the personal training, I smashed a PB on a 400 metre dash in London Fields, I love this Strava challenge it is on my way home and always motivates me to have a dash beating my PB. I was so delighted to get an 8th place on the all time challenge leader board jumping two places recording a 1.25 on the dash. I would urge everyone to get on Strava, it is great way to add a little excitement to even runs when you don’t feel at your best.

London Fields 400 metre dash

8th place on the all time leaderboard

8th place on the all time leaderboard

With hindsight running before a personal training session wasn’t my wisest decision. As well as leading the Hackney GoodGym group, Ade runs a personal training business called Fit City with a special focus on exploring the urban architecture of London through running. However this Friday we were in London Fields Fitness studios and Ade was putting me through my paces with a core and cardio workout. And boy did she make me sweat, Ade is tough but very fair and a real pleasure to train with. We did lots of different core exercises, lunges, boxing and some running, I enjoyed the session immensely.

The good news from the session is that my core isn’t too bad however there is room for improvement and I will be working with Ade in the coming weeks to strengthen this area up before starting my Edinburgh Marathon training at the start of February.

Ade also filmed my running and there has been massive improvements in my form, the arms are swinging better and feet are very close to striking straight underneath me. I will be working with Ade in the coming weeks to improve this. Any tips on running form are much appreciated, please comment below I honestly appreciate any help.

Next week I promise to do a blog on nutrition as a vegan, I have found that since switching from a vegetarian to a vegan diet last June my running and overall health as come on leaps and bounds. 

And remember we are half way through the Winter, keep finding pleasures in Winter running and before you know it Spring will be in the air along with those race PB’S. 

Thanks for popping by as always.

Damien x

I am running the Edinburgh Marathon

Edinburgh Marathon

I have finally taken the plunge and it is settled; in 2014 I am to become a marathon runner. I decided the location for my first marathon will be the historical city of Edinburgh, Scotland, on the 25th May 2014. I will be aged 29 years, 9 months and 5 days old.

I have never been to Edinburgh and I frankly know very little about it. Several friends studied there or have been up to act in or watch the fringe festival. The historical streets of Edinburgh are unknown to me, this will be a run on away turf. When I started thinking about my first marathon in my mind I had settled on London or Brighton and their familiar streets. Obviously I hadn’t taken to account not getting a ballot place and missing the Brighton deadline and generally being useless and non-committal in choosing my race.

Other reasons to choose Edinburgh include it being the last of the spring marathons, I won’t have to fundraise to take part, I get to explore a new city and it is flat, flat, flat, after my last half marathon a easier terrain was definitely on my agenda.

Weirdly I don’t feel daunted, the past 9 months of running has seen me make great strides forward including recording a 21.04 5K and completing a half marathon. I may still be the worlds least flexible person and managing a calf injury but I am running again and excited for January which is going to consist of some personal trainer sessions and lots of cross training, including stretching, spinning, cycling, swimming.

This is where I need your help! What do I need to do to smash the race? What books should I read, what training plans should I look at? What gear should I investigate, what training runs should I do? I am thinking the 10 mile Dartford race will be my first training race, I actually grew up in the town and my Mum still lives there, so it should be fun to run the streets I know well. Reading and Brighton are February half marathon considerations, anyone else running these races? It is going to be a tough journey I know that. I am lucky I have found such a supportive community of other runners online and through GoodGym I have met lots of other great runners to inspire me.

I know lots of people will also be gearing up for spring marathons, if you live in London and want someone to train with let me know, I always love running with new people.

The Edinburgh Marathon is 20 weeks,  6 days and 16 hours away. Time to dig deep, lets do this!

YouTube rehabilitation

I am incredibly frustrated at the moment. My calf is still tight and improving daily but still no running. I suspect it will be at least a week before I am able to lace up again. What I find most frustrating is the thought of losing fitness and seeing my weight gradually creep up.

To try keep my fitness up this week I am making sure I am spending time on my bike and this morning I went for a 40 minute swim. I am incredibly slow at swimming these days, everything feels slightly out of sync like a computer when it is going wrong. I am going to try and get in the pool again later in the week and I am pushing on with my stretching programme given to me by my physio.

I have also been working hard on my improving the Vegan Runner YouTube channel. Please subscribe to the channel. Here I am talking about running, cycling, making vegan recipes, discussing veganism and fitness more broadly.

These are some of my recent videos. Please share and subscribe, I really want to keep making these videos the more subscribers I more inclined I will be to keep going.

What has running taught me?

Eat and Run

When I first went for a run in February it had been 2 and half years since my only half marathon a lumbering 2:17 at the Royal Parks Half. I was fed up of feeling unfit it was a bright winters day and my trainers were calling me. I huffed and I puffed and I certainly wasn’t blowing any houses down. But I kept at it, I went for a few runs with my friend Lauren and then after about a month of slow running I started going to GoodGym and slowly but surely the running got easier. I was enjoying it.

Despite a injury hiccup which was a great learning experience thanks to some first class physio my progress as a runner has been swift. I have started racing and although my overall placings are amazing as of yet I am in the top 25% of runners in all my races so far. 

My running journey has taught me a lot about myself a person, my body and how I can get the most from it. I truly believe switching from a vegetarian to a vegan diet has I believe been a key element in enabling me to ramp up my training, improve my pace and stay injury free. 

So what has running taught me?

1) I like a little moan early into my runs: I am either too tired, I feel stiff, its the wind, I feel to cold, I got my layering wrong. There is always something bugging me, generally I start enjoying my runs at around mile 3. Which if it is a 5k means I enjoy roughly the last 200 metres.

2) I am still a competitive person: I used to play lots of football and cricket but in general life, work, business, status,  I don’t consider myself competitive. But put me in a race and from the moment I get the starting line, I want to do the best I can possibly do and get as close to winning as possible.

3) Every run teaches you something: Whether you learn about your body or what is going on inside your head or your surroundings. It is the sport of natures voyeurs you always can spy something interesting happening in the nature around you.

4) I am a geek: I knew this but running has definitely reaffirmed this. I am growingly obsessed with split times and I have become very concerned with how training and my diet can squeeze extra %’s out of my running potential.

5) Running is social: I always thought of running as a solitary activity but being part of GoodGym, taking part in races and writing this blog has connected me with so many interesting people. I am making new running friends every week, their stories and training always inspires me.

6) Vegan for the win: Well the 17th place in my case currently. Anyway following a high carbohydrate low fat vegan diet has helped me lose a few extra pounds I was carrying and enabled me to recover remarkably well. I am continuing to stay injury free and improve my speed.

7) The staff in Sweatshop know nothing: If you want some decent running advice seek out ‘Runners Needs’, both the staff in the shops in Moorgate or Aldgate know their stuff.

8) A huge part of running is in the head: During a race I skip through so many scenarios from what happens if I can’t run up that hill, I panic about tripping people up, I doubt I can even get around the course. Then finally comes acceptance at around mile 3 that I am doing pretty well and this is great fun. I am still a nervy sports person, I always was when I was younger and I still take awhile to calm down.

9) I am rubbish at following training plans: I have looked at so many plans, different interval sessions, fartleks etc, I still haven’t managed to many focused sessions. My options generally are run fast or take it easy and keep things consistent. I know to progress I need to change this but for now I am happy listening to my body and just going with the flow.

10) Do what works for you: I am guilty of giving my point of view but what works for different people will be different. There is so much contradictory advice. So listen to people try things out but you can’t follow everyones advice. Just rock your own path is my advice.

As Scott Jurek wrote when I met him in October ‘You know the path follow it!”.

PB’s

5k 21:04 Hackney Marsh ParkRun

10K 47:31 Greenwich Park 10k

Follow me on Twitter @damienclarkson

Running like a dog for 10.68 miles

This was the sunset as we were running around Hackney Marsh

This was the sunset as we were running around Hackney Marsh

After the brutal hills of my 10k race on Sunday, my glutes felt a bit trashed. So in the sprit of listening to my body I took it easy for the early part of this week, instead getting my exercise on a number of bike rides into central London.

But with my half marathon quickly approaching, I recognised regardless of soreness I needed to get out there and put in some quality miles. Luckily I have a new running buddy in the shape of Clare who I met through our mutual friend Helen. With a marathon time of 3:30 behind her running with Clare is great for my training, we have loads in common and the minutes fly by.

Excitingly yesterday she brought along her beautiful 9 month Collie, Watson to join us on the run. Early on Watson was definitely setting the pace. We ran up to our Walthamstow and Hackney marshes. Watching Watson boundless energy was inspiring, he was in and out of the river, puddles, grabbing sticks, playing with other dogs. Basically he was having a brilliant time.

Watson

All whilst I was being a little bit of a moaner for the first few miles; I had cycled about 8 miles already yesterday and had been to a great social enterprise event at lunchtime. However at the event there was no vegan food apart from the obligatory plate of fruit. Now I had a choice and did the polite English thing and grabbed a selection of fruit. Basically I needed double what I took to get sufficient carbs in but I didn’t want to be a fruit hog. So after my cycle home I felt a little under carbed and had to eat a piece of bread and low fat hummus 30 mins before the run. Not ideal but after a bit of a food and water I felt near where I needed to be. 

Once we got into Hackney Marsh the sun started to set the sky was a beautiful orange and pink. We both couldn’t stop admiring the beautiful views. These are the moments I have come to cherish as a runner. On every run I see something beautiful or something of interest, I learn more about the area in which I live in. If I was inside I was miss all of the interesting stuff happening around me.

By the time I was into the 4th mile I was starting to feel strong, we decided to run back on ourselves across the endless football pitches. I felt I got found out for my lack of soft surface training at the Bushy Park 10K a few weeks ago. I always find my pace drops on soft surfaces but I am finding it increasingly important to mix up. We then decided to head off down Regents Canal towards Victoria Park, my initial plan was to run with Clare for a bit then turn back and run home. But as I said to Clare I felt I was getting a second wind. This had the makings of a long run in it. So I decided to just keep running I left Clare and Watson at Victoria Park and made my way home.

Whilst running through the park I had a teenager throw a few stones. Which I felt was particularly brave of him only being in his hoody and standing behind steel fence. He must have felt particularly proud when despite me not evening saying anything to him he started screaming and swearing at me. Honestly you just have to smile, what a pathetic existence he is leading if that is how he gets his kicks.

I reached the end of the park and realised it was closed which was a bit of a lesson really, probably not the best idea to run around Victoria Park in the dark. This led to me having to rather gingerly jump the park fence before continuing home.

By this point my splits were again in the 8 minute mile territory again, I wasn’t flying but by no means was I struggling. I arrived home after completing 10:68 miles in 1:33.45. This has filled me with confidence for my half marathon on the 1st December a 1:45 time definitely feels within my reach now.

My 10 mile route

My 10 mile route

I really think having Watson running with us yesterday helped lift my mood and enabled me to get the enthusiasm to make what was meant to be a 8 mile run something much longer.

Have you ever ran with a dog? If so how do you find it?

Until the next time.

Damien x