Harder, Faster, Longer

10 mile run

Want to go harder, faster, longer? If so, you have come to the right place, get ready to receive some advice that will change your running for the better.

1) Believe in yourself

It sounds simple but so many runners needlessly doubt themselves, I include myself in this category. If you have your trainers on and are getting out of the door you’re already doing great. Our bodies were designed to endure incredible physical stress, our minds on the other hand are prone to the odd wobble. For example this weekend at mile 7 of my run I thought I was literally done for but I got a mouthful of water and ended up running miles 7-10 quicker than miles 4-7. It was my mind that was playing tricks on me, my actual body was more than up for the challenge.

2) Get your carbs in

I am not a doctor or a nutritionist but this much I know. A high-carb vegan diet rich in fruits and vegetables of over 3000 calories a day has seen me lose 7kg and this weekend I ran 10 miles in 1:17.23. I am still 10 weeks away from the Edinburgh Marathon and currently my recovery and energy levels are great and the PB’s keep coming my way.

3) Swing your arms

It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing, isn’t that how the song goes? Well anyway, swinging those arms really helps especially when tackling hills. You want to have your arm bent at a 45 degree angle and push them right back it shouldn’t feel forced, just find a rhythm that works for you. I did some work with the amazing Ade at Fit City and I have seen some massive improvements in my times and running form as a result

4) Hydration

Get up drink a litre of water. Before breakfast, before radio 4, make it the first thing you do everyday. Hydration is essential to maintaining a health digestion. A well hydrated runner will start to come into their own in the later stages of the race. I made a mistake of under hydrating in my December Ashford Marathon and I will never do that again. I aim to urinate at least once every 2 hours making sure my urine is clear (I can’t believe I talk about urine in blogs).

5) Smile

Runners smiling at me lifts my spirits and keeps my pace up, runners who saying hello actually make my day. Runners are a special breed; we only really understand each other the very least we can do is smile at each other.

In 10 weeks time I will be running the Edinburgh Marathon, I literally can’t wait now Spring has arrived, I am getting faster, starting to dream about that 3:30 perhaps it is possible. After my 10 miles in 1:17.23 perhaps it isn’t a pipe dream after all.

Let me know your tips for great running. Thanks for reading, you’re all superstars I appreciate all of you very much.

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.


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.

Why the paleo diet lacks compassion and screws the planet

Bananas for low carbon high energy food

Bananas for low carbon high energy food

This blog isn’t going to make everyone love me but that isn’t the point. This blog is about what I strongly believe and I am not in the business of telling people what they want to hear just to make them feel good about themselves.

I have been feeling really bugged by the Paleo diet. I know, no surprise a vegan hates the worlds cruellest diet.

The Paleo diet is commonly known as the caveman diet and encourages a high fat diet, high protein diet primarily comprised of meat and vegetables, no sugar and low in carbohydrates.

So, why are people obsessed with a diet which saturates your body in fat? Fucks the planet, actively encourages slaughter and consumption of a vast quantity of animals? This diet is currently pushed by a few overweight non athletic people making a fortune telling people what they want to hear. It has been adopted by the Crossfit community and pushed as the way to get optimum athletic results. Crossfit is hugely popular but it has been linked to causing dangerous muscle damage conditions such as rhabdomyolysis.

The large guy on the right looks like the right person to be given nutrition advice.

The large guy on the right looks like the right person to be given nutrition advice.

The paleo diet will tell you that you know those millions of animals slaughtered every day well that is because god wanted that. This is a quote off a Crossfit gym near my flat in London which pushes the diet. Honestly WTF: ” This is not a lifestyle for a vegetarian. Paleo works on the idea that “if God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.”

Shit! Obviously that evolution theory thing skipped the people at this crossfit gym. I suppose if god didn’t want us to eat fruit he wouldn’t have made them out of fruit. Yeah, right that makes sense. Really, really? Is that best justification for a diet which encourages increased slaughter of animals and damages the planet.

We live in a world which is being ravaged by climate change, in the past 2 weeks, The Phillipines, Italy and Somalia have been hit by cyclones. We have record levels of carbon in the atmosphere 400 parts per million. Just last month the worlds leading climate scientists (IPCC) have published a report saying we are heading for 4 degrees increase in pre industrial world temperatures by the end of the century. I was at a conference last week about the Chagos archipelago (the worlds biggest no take marine conservation area) and every scientist who stood up to talk about the reef talked about the threats posed by climate change to our oceans and marine ecosystem.

We live in a world where we need to drastically reassess the way we treat animals and are in urgent need of cutting our global carbon emissions. Livestock farming and the meat industry currently accounts for roughly 1/5 of global carbon emissions.

Let me be clear. Eating meat doesn’t make you a bad person, we all have to make our own choices and some of the most wonderful people I have ever met eat meat. I still love them. But it does significantly increase your carbon footprint as an individual, carbon emissions from livestock farming a major contributor to climate change.

Dr John McDougall talks about how a high starch vegan diet heals his patients health:

Personally I want to eat a diet that enables me to have a low carbon footprint, not harm animals and be a good steward of the planet.

I also want to thrive athletically, I just need to look at people like Scott Jurek, Tim Van Orden, Rich Roll, Durian Rider, Brendan Brazier, Peter Siddle, Mac Danzig, for vegan athletic inspiration.

UFC fighter and Raw Vegan Mac Danzig

UFC fighter and Raw Vegan Mac Danzig

I feel a large part of running is about how we feel inside. Scott Jurek didn’t win the The Great Western States 100 mile race 7-times feeling guilty. A vegan diet enabled him to perform and recover better than ever before, I am sure knowing his diet meant he was treading lightly on the earth enabled him to run fast and become one of the greatest ultra marathon runners ever.

As a planet we’re facing a global heart disease and obesity crisis, 23% of people in the UK are now obese. Just turn on your TV what do you see? Meat everywhere, dripping with fat and cheap junk food. We have thrived off fruit since humans evolved that is what we’re meant to eat not our companions on earth animals. We didn’t all start getting fat in the west when we started eating fruit this only happened when we became rich nations and had access to junk food and cheap meat.

We all have to make our own choices but in my eyes a high carb, low fat vegan diet rich in fruit and veggies is the one which will help you stay healthy and happy and protect the planet for future generations. We have the power to make positive choices like going vegan. Just because something has always been a certain way it doesn’t mean it needs to stay like that the world changes. I just hope the fitness world wakes up and dismisses this dangerous, cruel paleo diet soon.

Check out Durian Rider exposing some paleo myths below:

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.


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