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!

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Flexibility

Spinning
‘Flexibility’, in every sense of the word is something all runners have to master. Our running requires our constant love and attention, it demands that we work on our form, strengthen our core, be flexible with our social arrangements, stretch our muscles and push our bodies. And yet despite the occasional injuries and moments of anguish ‘running’ is a kind, benevolent hobby which gives us runners so much. For me it is the little things, the beautiful sunsets, the interaction with animals, the friendly morning greetings from dog walkers, the discovery of new areas in the place I have lived for years. And the simple satisfaction of moving my body, feeling the sweat on my brow and speeding places quickly. Put simply I love it, I am a running addict.

But December has been a hard month for my running. On the 1st December I had my disappointing Ashford Half Marathon (I finished) where I pulled my calf muscle badly. This led to a 19 day lay off from running until this Friday where I finally was able to get back out there putting in a nice steady 5.3 mile run with my friend Clare and her dog Watson. This month has required me to be flexible in order to stay on top of my fitness, with Christmas around the corner it would have been easy to slip back into bad habits.

The injury has forced me to be flexible about how I keep fit. Running is my number one sport of choice which I usually top up by commuting locally on my bike. My minimal amount of cycling wasn’t going to be enough to keep me feeling great. So I decided to go swimming again. I have to be honest I find swimming  hard work, I try to space out but I find it relatively boring but I afterwards I always feel great. I am going to try and make sure I go to the pool more regularly in 2014.

I also went spinning at London Fields Fitness Studio. My only previous spinning class was 7 years ago in David Lloyd gym and it was not an enjoyable experience, very eye of the tiger music wise. The vibe at London Fields Fitness located in a railway arch was chilled the lights were low and the instructor Manya was great. I couldn’t believe how much I was sweating. I looked up after 15 minutes and I remember thinking how the hell am I going to keep going for another 30 minutes but I did and I loved it. Everyone was sweating and smiling as they left the studio and at £10 a class it offers great value and an alternative way for me to keep fit.

Today I cycled in the pouring rain to Shoreditch to take part in a dynamic stretch class at Frame with my friend and runner Sam (she has a great running blog). I first heard about Frame on Kelsey (Running on Coffee blog). I was by far the least flexible person in the class, the instructor picked up that is was my tight hamstrings holding me back. But after yesterdays run I was feeling a slight tightness in my calf and this disappeared after the class. I think increased flexibility in my body, my  training plans and my approach to running is going to be the key for staying fit and running fast in 2014.

I am also putting a lot of time into my YouTube channel, please subscribe and give me feedback on the videos. If you want me to talk about a running/nutrition related topic just let me know.

Damien x

Burning fat as fuel

Recently I have been experimenting with training in a fasted state. Like most people I never know what to eat on my morning runs, I always feel tempted to have a banana smoothie or some other high energy food packed full of carbohydrates. Often I will do this and find that after around 30 mins of running I will start to receive a mild stitch in my side. Not pleasant and not the recipe for recording some quick times.

So just incase readers are not aware of ‘fasted training’. It is essentially undertaking exercise without consuming carbohydrates beforehand. The reason to do this is to get my body used to burning fat as its primary source of energy on longer runs. The idea being that I can prepare myself to run a marathon using fat as my primary fuel. Our body only has a limited amount of glycogen this is around 90 minutes for most people but an unlimited supply of one energy ‘fat’. By training in this way I am hoping I will be able to get my body to switch to primarily using fat to fuel long runs.

Like I said this is a bit of an experiment for me at the moment and tomorrow I will be doing a 9 mile run with my friend Clare again without eating. However I will take some dates with me incase I bonk if we decide to go a bit further. Actually according to Tim Van Orden who has previous been US Trail Runner of the year; you can eat carbohydrates after 30 mins of running as your body has switched over to a fat burning system.

Last week I did my first longer run in a fasted state and despite a bit of a drop half way I picked it back up and was fairly happy with my performance as it was the first time I have gone this distance since returning to running.

8 miles plus

I highly recommend checking out this video by Tim Van Orden talking about the reasons behind fasted training. He gives so much great advice here. And don’t worry when I get in from my run I will be eating plenty of carbohydrates and hydrating.

Durian Rider also recommends fasting before short/mid distances up to 21km. Two slightly different angles but both well worth watching.

I will let you know how I get on as I look for the perfect formula to help me achieve my best possible time at the Ashford Half Marathon in just over 3 weeks.

The Magic Mile

GoodGym Track Night

Recently the running/volunteering group I attend GoodGym announced they were holding a  track night. At the grand old age of 29 this would be the first time I had ever ran on a real running track. It was safe to say I was pretty excited and as we arrived at the track in Mile End the floodlights switched on; It felt proper. For a brief moment I was expecting Mo Farah to pop his head around the door and announce he would be joining us a for a run.

Pictures courtesy of GoodGym

Pictures courtesy of GoodGym

I had been thinking a lot about what my mile time would be mainly whilst listening to the Marathon Talk podcast. And to be honest I didn’t really have much of a clue. My race 5K PB is only 22:12 but I have ran 19 min 5k’s in training runs all be it with downhill involved. So I had a suspicion I might be capable of doing something half decent. The problem being I literally had no idea about how to pace it. Of course I had read a little bit beforehand and Ade one of the GoodGym coaches gave us some valuable advice before we set off.

Pictures courtesy of GoodGym

Pictures courtesy of GoodGym

There was only about 11 of us taking part but some serious runners were in the group so I was curious to see how I would match up to the tough competition. After doing some fun dynamic warms ups we got ready to start our race. I remember thinking this is amazing, why haven’t I done this before, followed by thinking I hope I don’t false start. Then before I knew it we were off and all I could think was; “wow! this is fast”. A couple of the runners set off at a blistering pace probably sub 5 min, so within a 100 metres I knew my race would take place somewhere in the middle of the pack.

I tried settling down into a nice rhythm trying not to worry myself with what the other runners were doing or how I was quite close to the back of the pack. Honestly after 2 laps I remember thinking I can’t believe I have to run two more of these. I was definitely feeling the burn but on that third lap my body realised it would all be over soon and I realised Ade and I had reeled in the runner in front and as she went past I went with her. All of a sudden I felt a bit more optimistic, perhaps I was fitter than I realised and capable of not collapsing in a pathetic heap.

Pictures courtesy of GoodGym

Pictures courtesy of GoodGym

After that I felt we picked up the pace and all of a sudden I felt I had rhythm, I was still in the middle of the pack but the runners in front were in my sights. Basically I left it too little too late I went with about 150 metres to go overtaking Ade (who I am sure could have caught me if she wished) and sprinting hard to the finish. I nearly caught Callum in front but he had a great sprint at the end as well.

My mile time was 6:12 and I think I finished 6th.

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I will definitely be trying more track races in the future. With a bunch of good people it can make for a great way to vary your training and practice that extra kick at the end of a race. We ended the evening with fun 100 metre rely which I really enjoyed, although running fast around a corner was a strange experience. Afterwards we headed to a lovely pint in a great local pub, fun running with great people. All in all a perfect Friday evening.

If you have ran a mile race what was your time? How do you go about pacing yourself? With how far left do you normally accelerate? I would love to hear your stories and strategies.