Tag Archives: training

Running Resources

Over the last few years I have found various running related websites, podcasts, books, magazines & films really helpful. Some of the resources mentioned below have altered the way I train and race while others have provided motivation and inspiration. I hope you will also find the links useful. If you have any personal recommendations please comment and share.

Websites

Science of Running

https://www.scienceofrunning.com/

McMillan Running

https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/

Fast Running

https://www.fastrunning.com/

The Milestone Pursuit

https://themilestonepursuit.com/the-milestone-pursuit-in-running/the-monthly-milestone/

 

Marathon time predictor:

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/marathon-calculator/

 

Podcasts

The Morning Shakeout

https://themorningshakeout.com/

Marathon Talk

https://marathontalk.com/

Lets Get Running

https://www.letsgetrunning.co.uk/podcast

Billy Yang

https://billyyangpodcast.libsyn.com/

 

Books/Magazines

Marathon Running: From Beginner to Elite – Richard Nerurkar

Endure – Alex Hutchinson

The Art of Running Faster – Julian Goater, Don Melvin

Twin Tracks – Roger Bannister

Two Hours – Ed Caesar

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami

Born To Run – Christopher McDougall

Natural Born Heroes – Christopher McDougall

Why We Run – Robin Harvie

Eat & Run – Scott Jurek

North – Scott Jurek

Running With The Kenyans – Adharanand Finn

The Way Of The Runner – Adharanand Finn

Rise Of The Ultrarunners – Adharanand Finn

50 Races To Run Before You Die – Tobias Mews

Runner – Lizzy Hawker

Ultramarathon Man – Dean Karnazes

The Road To Sparta – Dean Karnazes

Feet In The Clouds – Richard Askwith

Running Free – Richard Askwith

A Life Without Limits – Chrissie Wellington

Finding Gobi – Dion Leonard

Run Or Die – Kilian Jornet

A Year On The Run – Damian Hall

Shoe Dog – Phil Knight

Peak Performance – Brad Stulberg, Steve Magness

Grand Trail – Alexis & Frederic Berg

 

Like The Wind Magazine

https://www.likethewindmagazine.com/

 

Ultra Magazine

https://www.ultra-magazine.com/

 

Films / Documentaries / Videos

The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young

Where Dreams Go To Die

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDZdsqbcGTU

Run Forever: The film of Nicky Spinks & The Double Bob Graham Round

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ABR30IHlq4

Paul Tierney: Running The Wainwrights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laMBEjxlst8

Unbreakable: The Western States 100

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=zy1as6CTYXI&feature=emb_title

Finding Traction

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3tCVxm0sm4

Skid Row Marathon

https://skidrowmarathon.com/

Karl Meltzer: Made To Be Broken

https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/films/karl-meltzer-made-to-be-broken

Kilian Jornet: Summits Of My Life

https://everest.summitsofmylife.com/

 

YouTube channels

Salomon Running

https://www.youtube.com/user/officialsalomon

The Ginger Runner

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGingerRunner

Run Steep Get High

https://www.youtube.com/user/runsteepgethigh

Ben Parkes

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZPqG0yh_xPm2AyLjffbDvw

The Run Testers

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOBM9FasII4dKbyE_HKkbjw

The Running Channel

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCX7dV4OPDSutwMUauSD5AAA

Ruby Run Half Marathon 2019

On Sunday 9th June I took part in the Ruby Run Half Marathon for the fourth time. I first raced between Holsworthy and Hatherleigh in 2011, running it alongside my uncle. That year we crossed the finish line in 46th and 47th positions in a time of 1:45:29. I travelled down to Devon with my sister Sarah and her boyfriend Joe to spend time with family. As I had ran the Stour Valley Marathon the previous weekend, I wasn’t too sure if my legs would be up for racing but after a few shakeout runs during the week they seemed to have recovered well from the hilly, trail route. My uncle was taking part again, cousin Tilly was racing in a relay team and my mum and sister opted to walk it (starting earlier at 8am) in training for a marathon walk later in the year. 

After catching up with family throughout Saturday I nipped out for an easy 5k to keep the legs ticking over. I ran an out and back route; on the way out my legs felt good, then when I turned around, I realised the wind was behind me and it was gradually downhill. I had my fingers crossed for nice weather for the race. We carb loaded up on pasta and bread before watching a film to chill out and getting an early night.

Iffley Road vest, Suunto watch, adidas split shorts, Stance socks, Runderwear & adidas adios

With the race not starting until 10:30 I had a decent lie in. I woke up around 8am to have some breakfast and get kit ready. As my sister’s boyfriend Joe dropped her and my mum in town for the walk, he picked up my number, so I didn’t have to worry about that.

I met up with my Uncle Andrew, Auntie Hannah, Eliza & Tilly outside the memorial hall before we all walked down the road to the start point. As there were some road works the route had been changed slightly so we started halfway up Whimble Hill. We were very relieved we weren’t starting at the bottom, it’s steep! I was wondering if I would bump into any old football teammates or school friends. Through Strava I had seen that George Butler was running a fair amount, it was good to catch up with him before the race. I also saw friend Paul Piper on the start line and knew he’d be flying off into the distance having ran sub 2:30 for the marathon.

The pre-race briefing was done, we jumped off the verge onto the road and we were sent on our way. As I remembered the route being relatively hilly, I started at between half marathon and marathon pace. I figured I could either pick up the pace a little if the legs felt strong or ease back if they started tightening up. Having seen the previous years results I knew there wouldn’t be too many runners around the pace I wanted to hold but luckily there was a runner called Jim to run with/race. As I expected Paul opened a big gap early on and I knew we wouldn’t see him again.

My goal became sticking with Jim for as long as possible and seeing if I could finish second. I wasn’t too worried about the finishing time as I knew I wouldn’t finish anywhere near my personal best. It was good fun/refreshing to not worry about the clock but stick to Jim’s heels. I felt bad because he was pulling me along, but I didn’t really have it in the legs to get in front of him and push it anymore than we were. 

Throughout the race I was cheered on by my Auntie Hannah, cousin Eliza, stepsisters Nic and Kelly and their children Caleb and Kensa. The route change at the start also meant I got to run past my gran and grandads house and they came out to wave at me. This was nice because they’d never seen me in a race before. It was also great to be cheered on by old colleagues and people from Holsworthy Football Club etc. I felt relatively comfortable throughout most of the run. However, there is one long steep hill around 8 miles and that cost Jim and me a minute or so. After that climb I knew it was relatively flat, so I got back into a good rhythm. As we neared the final 5km I was starting to think about when I was going to make a move past Jim. I tried to recall the route from previous years and then remembered that the last kilometre is quick downhill into Hatherleigh. I could tell Jim was tiring so when my watch showed 20k I made a burst and opened the legs up down the road to the hall.

It was great to be cheered on by my family at the roundabout just before the finish. I mustered a sprint to cross the line in second place in 1:18:53. 

I congratulated Paul (1st in 1:13) and Jim (3rd in 1:19:13) on their runs before joining my family to cheer George (1:29), Uncle Andrew (1:45) and Tilly to the finish.

My mum and sister had fun and completed the walk in around three and half hours, they are going to smash the marathon and I’m sure they will be running the Ruby Run Half next year. Overall the event was so much fun! Fingers crossed I can get back for it again next year. 

It seems like there were plenty of epic races at the weekend. Well done if you completed one of them, hope the recovery is going well. 

Steve

The London Marathon 2019

On Sunday 28th April I took part in my third London Marathon. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to qualify for the race having ran sub 75 minutes for half marathons. My previous London Marathon experiences in 2016 and 2018 were special so I couldn’t wait to do it all again and enjoy the amazing crowd support. After running the Seville Marathon in February in a PB of 2:52 I was hoping to squeeze in some specific training and shave a little more time off. Five weeks after Seville I ran the Colchester Half Marathon crossing the line in 1:13:58 so I knew I was in good shape. However, the marathon is a different ball game and I doubted I had done enough long runs near marathon pace to warrant chasing a big PB. After completing a couple of 20k+ runs it was soon time to taper again. I headed to track on Tuesday nights for a couple of weeks to sharpen up before dialling back the mileage but kept the legs ticking over. 

The race came around quickly with being busy at work and fitting in training. On the Saturday before the race Lorna and I made sure to have a relaxing day; we prioritised carb loading, meeting up with friends Hayley, Will & Jackson for brunch and having dinner with her brothers Alex and Rob who were also taking part in the marathon. Having ran 3:11 in Seville Alex was opting to go out fast and try to hold on while Rob was running his first marathon, celebrating his birthday and raising money for the charity Sense. Having to travel in to Greenwich from Chelmsford we got an early night ahead of the big day. I slept well and was feeling relaxed about the challenge.

 

Lorna and I left our flat at around 7am to begin our journey to Greenwich; we got the train to Stratford where we met up with Alex, Rob, Ben, Liv and Harrison. Ben was taking part in his first marathon while his wife Liv and son Harrison were going to cheer us around the course.

 

 

We got the jubilee line to London Bridge before going our separate ways; Lorna and I were allocated the blue start on Blackheath due to gaining our places through GFA & Championship entry. The boys headed to Maze Hill as they got in through charity places.

 

 

Once we arrived at the blue start area, I wished Lorna luck and headed to the Championship entry corner to drop my bag. It was good to see lots of familiar faces while walking to the start, I had a quick catch up with Sorrell and Claudi before the elite runners were introduced and Andy Murray got the race underway. 

My plan was to try and run an even race, I set out near 4:05min/km (2:52 marathon pace). With the first 5k or so being gradually downhill I purposefully held back to save energy as opposed to bank time, I clocked 20:08 for the opening 5k. I settled into a good rhythm, took my first Maurten gel at 7k and went through 10k in 40:25.

 

Thanks for the shouts Liv (@liv_chiv)

Having ran London twice before I know it is a good race to enjoy and appreciate the crowd support. Running around the Cutty Sark I kept my head up and soaked up the atmosphere, it was electric. I thought it may be quieter as the weather wasn’t as good as last year but if anything it was busier than ever. Despite rarely looking at my watch I was holding pace well and feeling comfortable, I ran the third 5k in 20:35 going through 15k in 1:01. 

Between the Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge I shared a few miles with Adam Lennox and Steve Hobbs (The Milestone Pursuit founder/coach); Adam was aiming for a PB and Steve was using it as training for Comrades Marathon. It was nice to catch up with them both, the miles went quickly and I was soon approaching (for me) the highlight of the race. The crowds grow and grow as you run up over Tower Bridge, it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. It’s special to be running down the middle of the road with thousands of people cheering you on. In comparison to running London for the first time in 2016 I felt fresher and more relaxed knowing what lied ahead. My fourth 5k split was 20:23 and I went through halfway in around 1:26. I knew the hardest part of the race was to come but felt ready for the challenge. I continued to sip on water at every aid station and take a Maurten gel every 7k which worked well. 

Heading away from the crowds and towards Canary Wharf is always a little demoralising, it seems quiet after the high of running over Tower Bridge. However, I felt more present throughout the race than on previous occasions. I think because I averaged 4:05min/km pace in the Seville Marathon I was relaxed and felt more comfortable holding that pace. It allowed me to look around and spot friends in the crowd. The miles through Canary Wharf seemed to go a lot quicker thanin 2016 and 2018. I’m not sure if it was just me but I got the impression more people opted to cheer there. I was relieved to get through what is normally one of the harder sections of the route and looked forward to running past Tower Bridge and along Embankment. Plenty of the run crews had set up cheer stations roadside which always helps, especially when you’re really starting to tire. 

It was great to see so many friends along the route. Thanks for the photo Rocco (@roccoroy)

I made it along Embankment and was still feeling good. In a marathon you never quite know what pace to start at and what you can hold but I was relieved to get that far and not suffer too much. I took the right turn at Big Ben and knew I had just over a kilometre to endure. I picked the pace up a little, passing quite a few runners. Another right turn onto the mall and the finish line was in view. I hadn’t managed a PB but was happy to clock another sub 3 finish, crossing the line in 2:55:08. 

 

Iffley Road London Marathon Cambrian T-Shirt

On one hand I was disappointed not to PB but on the other I was pleased with how I executed my race plan and that I got to enjoy the London Marathon again. As the conditions were good so many friends achieved incredible times, well done to those of you that ran. It is such an inspiring day to take part in, it is definitely time for me to set some new goals and get into a good training routine again. The marathon takes a lot of specific training if you are aiming for certain times, you definitely can’t wing it. Over the next few months I’m going to focus on the shorter distances for a while and then I will build up for another marathon later in the year.

Thank you so much to those of you that sent messages of good luck &/or well-done last weekend, I really appreciate your support.

Hope the recovery is going well for those of you that raced. Catch up with a lot of you soon.

Steve

The RunThrough Colchester Stampede Half Marathon 2018

On Sunday 9th September I took part in the inaugural Colchester Stampede Half Marathon. Lorna and I had been meaning to take a trip to Colchester Zoo for a while and with her brother Rob racing we thought it would be a good opportunity to visit. Having fully recovered from SVP100 and Clacton Half I wanted to see what sort of shape I was in ahead of Munich Half on 14th October. I’ve done several Run Through races in the past so knew it would be well organised and that a few friends would be there.

In the lead up to the race I banked a couple of solid weeks training including tough track sessions running at quicker than half marathon pace. I also added a few longer runs around 16-20k into my week to improve my speed endurance. On the Friday before the race I ran 20k along the river in London with the first 10k easy and the second 10k around marathon pace. I didn’t run on the Saturday but Lorna, Rob, Sheilagh and I walked 8 miles around Alton Water with the dogs. In the evening Rob cooked chicken and sweet potato frittas to fuel us up and we got an early night as the race started at 9am.

Ahead of the race I was feeling really relaxed, I was looking forward to the challenge and seeing how my body would cope with pushing the pace. As I struggled to hold a decent pace in the Clacton Half I was wondering if I’d have to take it easy and settle for getting around at near marathon pace. However, I decided “there’s nothing to lose, I may as well set out around half marathon PB pace and see how it goes”. I figured the worst-case scenario was that I would have to ease up. This would still mean I’d put in a good effort and feel stronger after the race building towards Munich.

Speaking to race organiser Matt Wood before the start he let me know that the course was quick but undulating with a sharp hill near the end. Taking the start line I had a good catch up with Ken Hoye, then some elephants were brought into their enclosures before we started. The race began promptly at 9am and we weaved through the zoo for the first 300m or so. Sticking to my plan of pushing the pace I clocked an opening kilometre of 3:18, chasing two runners in front. A little further down the road the leader dropped out, my chances of competing for the win increased. I settled into a pace closer to my half marathon PB and got around the first (small) loop clocking 17:05 for the first 5k. Despite this being only 45 seconds slower than my 5k PB the legs felt good and I was enjoying the route. Having grown up in Devon I used to love running around the hilly country lanes.

Heading into the first of two longer loops I was closing the gap on the leader. As I was aiming to run as close to 75 minutes as possible I kept an eye on my watch to check I was around 3:30min/km pace. Some kilometres were a little quicker when running downhill. I let the legs do the work, it felt like I was getting a little rest before working harder into the wind or on the gradual inclines.

Thumbs up for the Iffley Road Lancaster Striped Track White Vest

I moved to the front of the race part way through the loop and ran through 10k in 34:26, again only a few seconds over my PB for that distance but I was feeling strong. I think the combination of doing regular track sessions and finishing SVP100k has improved both my speed and endurance.

Over the last lap I slowed a little as my legs began to tire. However, I knew I’d banked time in the first half of the race, so I could ease up and still finish around 75 minutes. Running passed people on their first long loop I received lots of shouts of encouragement which was great. It really helped distract me from the fact my legs were tightening. I made it into the final kilometre and tackled the hill before entering the zoo. Weaving by the animal enclosures I lost a few more seconds but crossed the line in 75:20.

I cheered Lorna and Rob through the finish then we spent the day looking around the zoo. All in all, it was a great day in Colchester. I will be back to try and improve my course record (disclaimer: this was the inaugural event) if it fits in the race calendar next year. The Run Through team organised another great event.

Steve

Colchester Half Marathon 2018

On Sunday the 25th of March I took part in the Colchester Half Marathon. It was the third time I have ran the race; mainly because it is Lorna’s home half marathon. Having only raced in a RunThrough 5k in January and the Cancer Research Winter 10k I wanted to push myself and see what shape I was in ahead of the London Marathon. I lowered my mileage in the week leading up to the race, pacing The Running Works Run Club and run commuting at a steady pace.

Last year Lorna’s brother Rob and I opted for an easy 5k on the Saturday to shake our legs out. As it worked well we decided to do the same again. I was really looking forward to race day but for some reason I doubted whether I could run a good time or be able to work hard when it got tough in the final few kilometres (which it always does).

With the race starting at 9am we woke up around 7 o’clock to have breakfast and get our race kit ready. I slept well and my legs felt good. Before the Colchester Half last year I’d ran Essex 20 the previous weekend and raced a lot so my legs were tired. Therefore I was aiming to beat my time of 1:14:58. We all headed to Colchester Community Stadium to drop our bags and get on the start line.

Photo courtesy of gazette news, Essex County Standard.

Having finished 2nd in 2017 I positioned myself near the front. Remembering the first 4k or so is slightly downhill I decided to push the pace early on and get into a good rhythm.

Two runners flew off the start and were into the distance but I had a couple of club runners for company in the opening kilometres. Running up the hill and onto the high street the crowds were out in force.

Approaching Ipswich Road, which is a gradual uphill, I settled into a good pace. I calculated I needed to hold around 3:30min/km to finish in under 75 minutes. Despite running on my own the kilometres went quickly and I was soon winding my way through the industrial estate. It was a shame not having anyone to race but I was focused on holding my pace and bagging a time to qualify for a championship start in the London Marathon for the next few years.

Running along Langham Lane and Dedham Road it was really quiet. It felt strange running in a race and for there to be no one around. I turned onto Straight Road which lasts for a good 4 to 5 kilometres. I knew this was where I needed to “dig deep” / “go to the well”. The long straight road is quite demoralising but luckily for me Lornas parents live a mile or so from the finish so I always look forward to cheers from her family and know I haven’t got long left from there.

Photo courtesy of Liam Winters Photography.

Nearing the football stadium I was keeping a close eye on my watch, as I was still holding 3:30min/km on average I knew I was going to make it in under 75 minutes. I mustered a sprint finish to cross the line in 74:05 in 3rd place.

I congratulated the winner and runner up before grabbing my bag to watch Lorna, Alex, Rob and Smithy finish. They all ran really well; Lorna clocked her second fastest half marathon time in 1:31 and Rob got a personal best.

Overall it was another great race. No doubt I will be back in 2019 to try and go quicker again.

Steve

Team Iffley

I have been part of Team Iffley for over a year now and think it is about time I explained how and why I partner with Iffley Road as well as letting you know about my favourite pieces of kit.

I first became aware of Iffley Road back in 2015, I was attending an event celebrating the first birthday of Like the Wind Magazine and got talking to founders Claire & Bill. As I was in the middle of training for my first marathon I asked them for advice on balancing speed sessions and long runs. They were both really helpful and I could tell how passionate they were about running straight away. Subsequently Claire emailed me a few book recommendations that have been great. Following the event I started following Iffley Road on social media and kept a close eye on what kit they were releasing. I was really impressed with the brand image and the functionality of the apparel.

I love their “Icons” video: https://youtu.be/Z5Tuats6HtU

My opportunity to work with the brand arose when they were looking for ambassadors through the Freestak platform. I applied straight away and was lucky that Claire and Bill liked my ideas and thought I would work well in the team. Since then I have written a number of pieces, sketched some of my favourite London landscapes and worn their kit for hundreds of miles in training and racing.

I am really excited to work with Iffley Road in 2018. Team Iffley includes Ben Fogle, James Beckinsale, Tom Wheatley & Sam Pearce.

My favourite Iffley Road kit

Marlow Running Jacket Night Sky Orange

I practically live in my Marlow jacket. It is really lightweight for a water proof jacket and the sizeable back pocket is perfect for cards, keys and phone. The elasticated cuffs and hem ensure it fits nicely, there is a good amount of room for swinging your arms and there isn’t too much excess material which can be typical of other waterproof jackets.

Hove Running Top Night Sky

I have been wearing the Hove long sleeve top for the last few months and it fast became one of my favourite pieces of Iffley apparel. It is the perfect top for cooler weather and is incredibly functional thanks to the tri-stripe hanging loop and in-seam pocket for a card and keys.

Cambrian Chevron Running T-Shirt Vivo Red

Last year Iffley Road designed kit for the Vivo elite race team. As it was popular the two brands have created a limited edition range perfect for chasing PBs. I have raced a lot in my Cambrian Chevron T-Shirt; it is really lightweight, soft and breathable. As with the Hove Running Top it features an in-seam pocket so it is ideal for long training runs.

Lancaster Striped Running Vest Track White Blue

The Lancaster Vest is great in hot weather. I wore mine on holiday in Barcelona last year when it was 30 degrees and it wicked well and dried quickly. I have found that all my Iffley tops dry really quickly which is excellent.

Thompson 6” Running Shorts

Whenever I’m running and just need a card and keys I always opt for my Thompson Shorts. They are really comfortable and feature side pockets as well as a zipped inner pocket. As they are relatively short I often wear them to race in.

Admittedly Iffley Road running wear is often a little more expensive than other brands. However, having ran in most of their range I think it is good value as it is durable, functional and more often than not becomes a favourite that you will wear on a regular basis. Personally I see running kit as a good investment, the more you can run in comfort the better.

I hope you have found this piece insightful. If you would like any specific information about any of the Iffley kit please don’t hesitate to comment or write to me on Twitter or Instagram (@SteveSkinner_).

Steve

Running into the New Year

It’s been almost two months since I last wrote a blog post so I thought I’d document what I’ve been up to since the Lisbon Marathon in October. With my championship entry for the London Marathon confirmed I have been focusing on building a good base so that I can train more specifically in the New Year and get a lot of really long runs in.

Looking back at my Strava training log in 2015 and 2016 I realised that despite taking part in Advent Running (the festive running streak) my mileage has been too low in November/December going into marathon training. With this in mind I have made more of an effort to run commute regularly, even if it has been freezing cold and dark. I have realised that generally no matter how tired my legs feel I can complete an easy 8k and they normally loosen up.

Despite December being busy in terms of Christmas shopping and drinks etc I have managed to get into a good routine and regularly attend the Run-Fast track sessions at Mile End Stadium on Tuesday evenings. At the time of writing I have been to track for  8 weeks in a row and after the last 5 sessions I have run an extra 20 minutes at around marathon pace (this is something I found beneficial before the Boston Marathon in April, thank you Simon Freeman for the recommendation).

I definitely don’t want to overcook it and peak too early but I am enjoying my running and my recovery rate is improving which should allow me to do more training of a higher quality in the New Year. On my Strava post “#AllAboutTheBase” Andy Waterman made a good point of dialling the pace back at track sessions slightly so I can run a good weekly mileage and not need too many full rest days.

Another reason I’ve been able to bank a few weeks of consistent mileage is I haven’t taken part in many races. Photo courtesy of Sam Pearce (@thefootpathlesstravelled)

I did the London XC Champs on the 18th of November which was great fun but apart from that I have just done the odd parkrun. Racing the shorter distances has allowed me to recover and still do a good long run the next day.

Over the last few weeks I’ve added a tempo run on Thursday nights. They have been tough as my legs have been tired from track but I think it is good training both mentally and physically to push the pace when fatigued. I am really excited to see what sort of shape I can get into in 2018 and for the first time in a while I have set myself some challenging targets across various distances.

In the New Year I am planning to start a weekly training log on here so you can all follow my journey to the London Marathon start line, I hope some of you will find it entertaining and/or informative. I’d be really interested to hear how everyone else’s training is going and what you’ve got lined up for 2018, drop me a message on Twitter or Instagram @SteveSkinner_

See a lot of you soon

Steve

Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon 

On Sunday the 15th of October I took part in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon. Over the last few years Lorna and some of our friends have raced in various European cities in the second half of the year. Last year Cologne was the destination of choice with it offering a marathon (which I took part in) and a half. The group decided Lisbon would be good fun as it is becoming an increasingly popular city to visit and because it hosts races of varying distances. I decided to opt for the marathon again thinking I would be in good shape a few weeks after finishing OCC.

We flew to Lisbon early (the security gates weren’t even open) on Saturday morning so we would have some time to sightsee. As we knew the expo would get busy later on in the day we went straight there to collect our race numbers. The expo was relatively small so we had to queue for 20 minutes or so to get in. 

After picking up our race numbers and t-shirts we got the metro to the city centre to grab some food and find our bearings. Following lunch we thought it would be a good idea to check out the finish area and arrange a meeting point for after the races. The lamppost with lanterns worked well!

In the afternoon we killed some time by queuing to go up a viewing platform and enjoyed ice creams, custard tarts and custard doughnuts to fuel up. Wanting to feel fresh for our races we decided to check in at our hotel near the expo and have a nap before dinner. We found a good restaurant just around the corner from Casino Lisboa, I chose to go for Lasagne and garlic bread whilst most of the group fuelled up on chicken and chips or pizzas. As the marathon started at 8am I got back to the hotel, laid out my race kit, filled my bag for dropping at the start and got an early night.

Obligitaroy race kit pic; Iffley Road vest, Adidas split shorts, Stance socks & Adidas Adios

On Sunday morning despite my alarm being set for 5am I woke up at 4. I think having been up at 2am the previous day and taking a nap on Saturday afternoon my body clock was a bit all over the place. At 5am I started to get organised and by 6 I was in the hotel reception asking a group of runners from Normandy if they would like to share a taxi to Cais de Sodre where we could then get the train to Cascais for free. The runners from Normandy were really friendly, they asked about my goal time and as I said “hopefully just under 3 hours” they let me go in the first taxi.

Once I arrived at Cais de Sodre station I was lucky to squeeze on the train, it was rammed. Despite not being able to get a seat the 40 minute trip went quite quickly, perhaps because I was still half asleep. 

The sunrise from Cascais was worth the early wake up call

After a 15 minute walk to the race village there was about 30 minutes to go until the start. I quickly dropped my bag on one of the lorries and then got in the queue for the toilets. Frustratingly there were only 10 or so toilets which didn’t seem like a lot when you consider 4,500 runners were taking part in the marathon. As 8am neared I had a decision to make; a) wait in the queue, miss the start and play catch up or b) start on time and stop part way through the race. I opted for the latter as the last thing I wanted was to have to weave through hundreds of people to try and hit a decent pace.

Leaving it late to join the start line I was lucky that I could enter the funnel near the front because I was number 347. I bumped into a guy that I had met on the plane on the way out, he said he wanted to finish around 3:00-3:05 and so he joined me for the first few kilometres. With it being around 25 degrees I decided to aim for another sub 3, I locked onto 4:15min/km pace for the first few kilometres and then nipped into the roadside portaloo at 4km. To make up some time for my toilet break I started running between 4:05 and 4:10 and felt good. Running along the coast and back through Cascais was beautiful, it didn’t feel too hot at this point but I knew there was still a long way to go.

As I struggled in the last 10k or so in the Boston Marathon earlier this year I decided to take an SIS gel every 7km. This didn’t just help me keep fuelled but it broke the race up into smaller chunks and I just kept thinking “keep working hard, get through the next few kilometres then down a gel”. With the route being relatively flat I felt comfortable at around 4:05-4:10min/km pace. This meant I soon caught up with my friend from the plane and went straight passed on one of the small hills.

At 35km I was on track to go sub 3 again. However the temperature was rising and running along the main road there wasn’t any shade and there were only one or two runners to chase down. I was starting to suffer so I took my caffeine gel to try and perk myself up. I got to 39k but then I got cramp in my left hamstring, I had to stop and stretch for 30 seconds which I thought cost me any chance of getting over the finish line under 3. Luckily it loosened up and I got back on pace. I was doing the maths in my head and trying to work out what pace I needed to hit. As I was running over the distance I knew I needed to up it. Thankfully my legs cooperated with me and allowed me to push on; I got through the 41st kilometre in 4:02, 42nd in 3:53 and then was at 3:33min/km pace for the final 500m to finish in 2:59:37.

Bling

It was such a relief to cross the line and I was chuffed to get another sub 3 marathon in the bag. It was definitely a lot harder than it needed to be but I guess that’s running. After collecting my medal and goodie bag I got roadside to cheer the squad round the half marathon. 

Stance Off

@fayebfit storming to a Half Marathon PB

@lorns_elliott zooming towards the finish line having just overtaken Alex to earn the bragging rights

@alexcvx looking strong. Great Stance combo & colour coordination

@bench53 heading for the beach! #LongDistanceCatwalk

Smithy, Lorna, Faye, Al, Rob, Chivers, Me, Becky & Robbie

In contrast to last year in Cologne Robbie didn’t run really really well because it was really really hot. However, everyone did well considering it was close to 30 degrees and there was a steep hill around 17k. 

Overall it was a great weekend in Lisbon. I’m now incredibly motivated to get into good shape ahead of the London Marathon next year. I’m planning to do a few shorter races including cross-country in the next couple of months.

Well done to everyone else that raced at the weekend, I’ve seen some awesome results posted.

See a lot of you soon.

Steve