London Marathon 2020 Training – Week 9

Moving my long run to Saturday meant no need for a rest day this Monday so started the week at CrossFit and as much fun as the class was it TOASTED my legs, heavy squats followed by many many lunges apparently don’t mix well with tired legs!

6 miles Zone 2 recovery run on Tuesday and heavy legged doesn’t come close to explaining how hard it was to drag my feet round, it was a BEAUTIFUL spring evening and my legs didn’t give up like I thought they might and surprisingly my cadence stayed relatively high so pretty happy with run looking back.

VLMW9p1CrossFit on Wednesday started with a technique session on handstands, I do not enjoy being upside down but at least it gave my legs a rest before the inevitable scorching they got on the Assault Bike, we repeated a workout from last seasons affiliate league and I’d forgotten how hard 10 minutes of work can be.

Oh dear my legs were feeling it on Thursday morning so father than do my planned run I made an appointment for a sport massage to try and work out some of my kinks. I’m not usually a fan of being prodded at but having someone who know what they’re doing work my tired muscles definitely helps and although not much fun at the time I think it’s worth it.

My legs felt significantly better on Friday morning and eased off even more by the time I finished work, so I cancelled my CrossFit class and headed out for a nice easy run to see how things felt. The answer was not great, so I only managed 3 very slow miles.

Maybe those 3 miles on Friday were what I needed as I felt great on Saturday and with JUST 50 DAYS TO GO I headed out for my long run, 16 miles and the first 10 were along trails and I felt great!! Tested out something closer to my race fuelling plan with a gel (SIS Isotonic) every 5ish miles and it seemed to work, felt like I had plenty of energy and my stomach was fine. Some absolutely stunning views on the route, but at times the wind so close to the sea made it harder than it probably should have been so my pace suffered a little, particularly through the dunes, but all in all a GREAT run, when 16 easy miles actually do feel easy you must be doing something right?

All day poolside Sunday judging at my daughters swim meet (gala), she swam so well and I finally got the last of my credits signed off to be fully qualified so it was worth it but a full day standing wasn’t as much of a rest day as I had planned and my legs felt more tired after that than they did from yesterday’s run!

As a side note, I am still going with my press-ups, it’s hard work up to 60 a day now and I’m working hard on building more foam rolling/stretching into my days as well as hitting 10k plus steps so overall, I’m happy with how things are going.

20 mile “race” next Sunday which I won’t be racing as such but will be fully testing out my race day kit and fuelling plan, I’ve not really got a goal as my legs feel tired and I won’t be doing any kind of taper into it but I am looking forward to a bit of a fun run with a group of others likely training for a spring marathon as well!

London Marathon 2020 Training – Week 8

After Sundays run tested me to my limit mentally, I needed a break on Monday so took an unplanned rest day, my left hip was stiff all day so I did spend an hour mobilising and stretching everything just to try and ease things off a bit. I really need to add that sort of stuff into my daily routine if I’m going to make the start line in once piece!

Progression run on Tuesday, just 5k but it felt great to feel a burn in my lungs from pushing myself rather than keeping everything easy, mixing stuff up certainly keep training more interesting, the next 6 weeks of my plan have way more variety now I’m moving away from base/mileage building towards working on race pace.

Gym rather than CrossFit on Wednesday, working on hips/glute strength with stiff legged deadlifts, split squats, reverse lunges, and glute bridges. No cardio at all although I did get quite a sweat on, holding a nice controlled tempo through single leg work really does test the core strength.

Thursday was 6 miles easy with a few efforts, I decided I’d use the hills to measure my efforts and run those harder rather than of structuring them around times/distances. It was hard work but once again a nice change of pace from al the steady miles, I’ve messaged my coach to ask for a couple of hill sessions to be included in my plan as I feel my form is much better after some tough hills.

Back to CrossFit on Friday for a fun partner workout, the session was split into 3 parts, first up a 2k row and 50 burpees over the rower, then a 12 minute AMRAP of box jumps, kettle bell presses and pull ups, and finally a 3 rep max hang clean, I really enjoy testing my Olympic lifts under fatigue and working with a partner keeps you on the pace.

VLMW8p1Shorter long run as it’s a cut back this week but it was structured as 4 miles at marathon pace, then 5k at 10k pace, followed by 6 easy miles to take it to half marathon distance, I LOVED THIS RUN, after last weeks struggle it felt great, the good thing about having paces is that you can make plans so I timed it so my 5k would be the local ParkRun and then the final 6 would be some easy miles along the coast. All my paces were great, my legs felt strong, my hip was OK if not 100% so I ended the week on a high.VLMW8p2

My wife and I had a child free night on Saturday so we headed down to Durham for some food/drinks and then Sunday was a rest day as my team (Aston Villa) were playing in the cup final and I didn’t want to make any plans that would interfere with me watching that, a not unexpected poor result but was good to see us playing competitively against one of the worlds top teams in a Wembley Final!

This second phase of training looks like it’s going to be far more fun with each session having a far more specific goal and a few races coming up so I’m really looking forward to my training again!

London Marathon 2020 Training – Week 7

So Monday was brought to you by chafing, WOW, this isn’t something I’ve ever experienced before, I’m not taking about chafing in the usual spot either, got that covered with bodyglide and a fair few years of kit experimentation. Nope it’s on my neck, it would appear that my CamelBak’s straps have started to rub, now I’ve noticed this before when I’ve used it without a jacket on but never to the degree it is today, it’s not just raw but has broken the skin and has scabbed up today, not a lot of fun! Skipped CrossFit as it was squats and more squats and my legs just weren’t up for it but did some stretching and rolling to try and ease things off.

Went for a slow run with my little brother on Thursday, he’s trying to get back into running again so 4 nice gentle miles as a bit of a recovery run were great to shake out the last of the aches from Sundays long run.


And I took delivery of yet more kit, hoping this vest should avoid any further chafing, feels comfortable and actually holds more stuff than my CamelBak so will be prefect for trail running once this marathon training is done.

Back to CrossFit on Wednesday for some heavy overhead work and a sweaty metcon, was great fun attacking a workout as a pair for a change and for the first time in a few weeks I felt at 100% for the session, Mondays as a rest day might become a thing I think!

Easy 5 miles on Thursday with a few strides thrown in here and there just to keep my tempo up, I quite like the little blast of pace every now and then even if it probably does attract some strange looks from people when I just randomly up my pace.

Little brothers birthday night out on Friday and I overindulged in food and alcohol so Saturday was a bit of a waste, I didn’t have anything planned but I’m getting used to always having something to do it felt strange to have a double rest day.


Sunday was the first 20 miler of my plan, I got it done but it didn’t got well. My head was all over the place, my cadence felt off, my pace was down and everything seemed to ache from then second I left the house. The route was pretty hilly with 2000ft of elevation but that’s not really unusual round here and the last 2/3 miles were pretty much downhill but the whole thing was a real mental struggle particularly from mile 13-16 where I was ready to call it a day and get a left home. I stuck it out though and I’m sure those tough miles will be valuable come race day but they were awful at the time.

Got a bit of a deload week next week so hoping the recovery that should bring will charge the batteries for the next few weeks before the taper madness kicks in.

London Marathon 2020 Training – Week 6

Jugging real life with training isn’t always easy! I’m told week 6 is the worst part of training, it’s far enough in that your getting tired but the marathon still seems so far away you’ve got to keep your head in the right place and push on.

The week started well enough, Ciara had blown out by Monday leaving being beautiful blue skies and what felt like the beginning of spring. My legs were feeling tired from the tough run on Sunday but off to CrossFit I went

Easy 4 miles on Wednesday to shake out some of the stiffness, heavy legs and tight calves definitely eased off by getting things moving, there might be something to this recovery running after all!

So the fun begins on Wednesday, it’s opening night for my daughters high school production and she’s got her first principle part so she’s excited/nervous and the last minute panicked running round began so although I had planned a short run time slipped away and before you know it I was sitting in the auditorium awaiting her debut, the show was brilliant, she held her own on a stage where most of the kids were 5-6 years older than her and I couldn’t be more proud.


It was my birthday on Thursday and I had an interview for a promotion at work so juggling things round so I could grab some time with my daughter before she headed back to the theatre and then my wife and I took the chance of a child free night to head out for a meal. It was great to enjoy what felt like a real night off after a hectic day but it did mean a second day without any training. Still if you can’t have a break on your birthday when can you? Also MORE NEW SHOES, my love of Hoka continues with this new Bondis, bit more cushioning than the Cliftons so should be nice to add to the rotation for the long slow stuff.

Valentines on Friday and a chance to test out the new shoes, 8 easy miles and the cushioning feels great, no hot spots but they do require a bit more work to keep them turning over.

The weekend arrived and so did another storm, Denis dropped a lot of water on Saturday night and the wind was still howling as I set out for my long run on Sunday morning. Mapped out a route that would hopefully provide me with some shelter and while it did that, what it didn’t manage was to do help me avoid the standing water on the backroads, got soaked by more than one passing car which was less than ideal. 17.5 miles at a nice consistent pace heading along the country lanes towards the coast was a really enjoyable, marathon training might be hard work but I really do love the longer runs, and finishing up with this view takes a bit of beating!VLMW6p3

So even with the mid-week wobble it was a pretty week in the end, just one CrossFit session but 3 good runs and a nice long one to close the week and keep my mileage on track. Just 10 WEEKS TO GO now, feeling pretty good that my training is where I need it to be, my body is holing up nicely to the additional mileage and I’m still looking forward to each session so something must be right.

London Marathon 2020 Training – Week 5

CrossFit on Monday was the beginning of an Olympic Lifting Cycle so it started with some technical clean work which was a nice way to come back from illness as it wasn’t too hard on the body, the workout on the other hand had me close to brining up my lunch, Assault Bike, Kettle Bells and Burpees is a combination that never lets your heart rate drop as they don’t require anything complicated to slow you down, probably should have taken it a little easier in retrospect.

VLMW5p2Early trip to the gym on Tuesday to get the qualifier workout I was supposed to do on Friday done before the cut off, it was brutal and wiped out any chance I had of getting in my planned recovery run. I’m pretty disappointed with my score, it’s a workout I would have repeated to try and do better had I managed to get it done earlier but that wasn’t an option this time.

Back at CrossFit on Wednesday and my legs were still tired, although I was giving 100% my numbers suggest I was well off the pace so I decided that Thursday would be a rest day and that I’d hit the weekend hard.

Headed out for 7 miles on the night time trails on Friday, combining the dark with off-road running is a great way for me to keep my speed in check, it really helps keep my concentrating rather than just “running” I got a bit lost as a couple of the trails were closed due to high winds but found a couple of nice little lanes I’ll use in future.


Saturday was my first road ride of the year, 20 mile across the moors and it was great fun, hard work as Storm Ciara was beginning to take hold but banking those hard miles into a headwind always pay off once the spring arrives. As much as I enjoy running and CrossFit I’m still a cyclist at heard, nothing beats time out on the bike and I really am spoilt living where I do with our quiet county lanes and stunning scenery!


With Ciara in full swing I knew my Sunday long run was going to be difficult, the forecast suggested that the rain would at least ease off in the afternoon, so I took the chance for a bit of a lie in and waited until after lunch to head out. I spoke to my coach as he’d advised our group not to take any chances with the storm and we agreed that rather than chase a mileage goal (I had 16 planned) I should aim for 2.5 hours and if the conditions got too bad I’d call it a day. This is the downside of training for a spring marathon, the weather at this time of year is never predictable and is always likely to impact training at some point but after being ill last week and cutting my runs short I was determined I’d get a good run in. I picked a hillyish route (1300ft of elevation) and headed out into the storm, running into the wind was uncomfortable and I never really felt like I ever had it on my back, but I got 14 slow and steady miles in so was pleased I went out even if it did take the rest of the day to warm up.

Back to daily Press Ups but sticking to 40 a day again this week so since they ground to a halt last Wednesday, it’s nice to have a little side project going on, I’m splitting them into 10 sets every 30 seconds until I get to 10 x 10 then I’ll look at doing bigger sets. 2 weeks of tracking my steps and HR and outside of training I’m hitting 10-12k steps a day so I’m happy with that considering I’m getting 40-60k additional a week with my runs. My HR data is more of a long-term project I think as the variability seems pretty high, my resting HR seems to sit at around 46 which is what I expected as it’s been around that number for as long as I can remember.

London Marathon 2020 Training – Week 4

Goals this week are to sign up to a couple of test events and include some night trail running.

CrossFit on Monday was heavy deadlifts to finish off a strength cycle with a WOD of Deadlifts, Squat Cleans, Burpees and rowing, really good way to blow away the cobwebs from the weekend.

I also appear to have been talked into competing again which means I‘ve now got 4 weeks of qualifier workouts to complete as well as my marathon training so that should be fun!


Finally got the chance to test out my new headtorch on Tuesday, HUGE improvement over my old one, it actually lights the trail rather than just a spot in front of me, so 5 miles at marathon pace along the dark trails was so much fun, I really like trail running in the dark and think I might even look to enter some night time trail races in the future!

Wednesdays CrossFit was overhead pressing and some bike sprints paired with sandbag carry’s, really hard work but again working on my weaknesses with movements that should transfer nicely over to my running.

The week pretty much fell apart at this point, I didn’t sleep at all on Wednesday night due to some stomach problems and they didn’t ease off until Friday and to say I was tired by then would be an understatement! So 2 days in bed with pretty much nothing to eat left me feeling lethargic on Saturday but at least I could start eating and drinking properly again, there’s been a bug doing the rounds and with a school age daughter and working in an open plan office sometimes you’re just going to get hit with something.

VLMW4p2Felt well enough to try a little run on Sunday, it was a beautiful day so headed down to the coast for a nice gentle 10k in the winter sunshine. My legs felt fine but a few days of not eating much and my energy levels certainly weren’t up for anything more than that.

I also signed up for a couple of races, first up will be the Run Northumberland Big 20 which sits perfectly as a 20 mile test event 6 weeks out from the marathon and then the Port of Blyth 10k in first week of April which is a Club Grand Prix race so hopefully all these marathon miles might give me a boost into something a bit quicker.

So although being ill has definitely dent in my training this week entering some races and a CrossFit competition gave me a little lift and I’m looking forward to getting back to full training on Monday.

London Marathon 2020 Training – Week 3

Goals fot this week were to run 25 miles and complete a half marathon distance as my long run.

Monday CrossFit and its week 3 of deadlifts, legs felt good and the weights moved well, went pretty heavy so pleased with the effort. Workout was bike sprints, lunges and pullups, pushed as hard as I could but my pull up technique needs some work when I’m doing volume under fatigue, hoping the marathon training and better diet should help with a bit weight loss and make these easier as the year goes on!

Cadence work on Tuesday, 2 miles at high (175+spm) then 2 miles at normal (160-165spm) all at threshold pace. Reading this it seemed like a strange workout but the high spm really got my legs turning over much more efficiently even if it did hurt a bit but when coming back down to my normal turnover rate I had to work hard on keeping my stride length up to maintain the pace. I like a session that makes you concentrate rather than just notching up the miles.

Woke up with very tired legs on Wednesday so made an extra effort to not sit for too long at work which seemed to help as by the time I got to CrossFit they felt ok. Overhead press then some rowing intervals mixed with a barbell complex, my overhead stability is definitely improving now, I can feel the difference so my confidence to attack workouts like this is growing each week. I also surprised myself a little on my rowing efforts, held a steady cadence but kept my pace nice and high and maintained it for each round, even had a little in the tank to go all out for the last set so maybe some crossover from the running?

Long day at work and heavy legs on Thursday so took a rest day, I’m doing everything I can to avoid picking up any sort of injury so if I feel like I need a rest I’m taking one, I’m making sure I cover all my running sessions each week but if I need a rest then I’ll miss/swap a CrossFit session to allow me to recover.


Unwell on Friday so ANOTHER rest day but my new trainers did arrive, I really like Hoka One One and my old cliftons have seen better days so when I saw these in the sale I had to have them! I’ve ordered some Bondi’s as well having read some good things about them, I like to rotate through 2 pairs of trainers so hopefully these 2 should see me through London.

Felt better on Saturday morning so had a leisurely run down to ParkRun, ran that at marathon pace then headed home so banked 8 miles in total. Still not 100% but it felt good to get a bit of a sweat on and see some of my clubmates at the start line and to be fair there can’t be many better ParkRun backdrops than this even if it is a bit of a mudfest!


I’ve promised myself that even if I have to walk I’ll make sure I get my long run distance in each week and I was feeling a much more like myself on Sunday morning and headed out towards the coast for the planned 13.1 miles, there were a few walk breaks as I wanted to keep my heartrate under 150bpm, still managed sub 10 for every mile so pretty pleased to have got the miles in and it’s good to know that exactly 3 months out from London I’ve got a half in the bag.

Press Ups up to 40 a day this week and I’ve started to wear my Garmin every day to track my steps, I’m pretty active outside training but I’ve not worn an activity tracker for a couple of years so I’m going to see if I’m moving as much as I think I am throughout the workday, be interesting to have some resting HR data as well.

London Marathon 2020 Training – Week 2

Monday morning and storm Brendan hit, admittedly we got off lightly up here but a thick frost first thing meant a little slide on the way to work and I tweaked something in my ankle, didn’t feel like anything serious but between that and the wind and rain battering everything on my way home I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.

The sweatfest of my CrossFit class soon knocked that out of me! We hit deadlifts for strength and a workout of rowing, push ups and kettle bell swings, my ankle felt ok with the exception of some tightness during the press ups but the stretch felt like it was doing some good.

Tuesday’s planned 4 mile tempo run was scaled back to marathon pace as my Achilles was VERY tight and the roads were icy so wanted to play it safe, really hoping this little niggle is not the start of something more serious, my calves are pretty tight so my hope is that this is causing the problem and not that I’ve done something during Mondays slip.

Took a rest day Wednesday as my Achilles was very stiff, some self-massage, stretching and a little time spent with the theragun eased it off, good news is that I don’t think there’s any real damage, it “feels” like my soleus very tight so I’m hoping that’s the cause of the stiffness in my Achilles, the increased mileage probably accounts for this more than Monday’s slip so hopefully with some stretching and recovery work I can get over it without too much trouble.

Rest AGAIN on Thursday!! Huge improvements today so going went with a repeat of yesterday’s massage/stretch/theragun routine in the hope for a similar improvement tomorrow!

6 miles in zone 2 for Friday and I felt good, broke my headtorch so the run route ended up being many loops of the street lit estates but my legs felt better, not 100% but pretty close to normal, pace felt good but I’m not one for heart rate training, just can’t get my head around having to do little almost walk like breaks to keep my HR in check, it really throws my rhythm and cadence off more than it probably should.

Moved my long run forward to Saturday morning as I was heading out to a 40th birthday party in the afternoon and assumed that this would mean me not being in the mood to run on Sunday, that should be my last social night till my own birthday next month so a more regular schedule will be easier to keep.WLMW1p1

Anyway the run itself was fantastic, the weather was perfect, the roads were quiet and my legs felt great, 12 miles planned, usually I just start running and when I hit the distance I call home for a lift back but by chance today as my watched clicked over 6 miles I passed a sign saying it was 6 miles back home so managed an out and back loop of 12.2 miles which was fun!

No Achilles pain on the run or on Sunday, the same couldn’t be said for my head so I’m pleased I moved the run forward.

This week I started to do pressups every morning, starting at 30 and seeing how things go, pressing is a weakness I need to work on so the slow accumulation of load hopefully will help me build things back to where they were.

So after a frustrating start to the week it ended pretty well, hopefully carry that momentum forward into the next few weeks as my mileage ramps up.

London Marathon 2020 Training – Week 1

So that’s the first week in the bank, and so far so good!!

CrossFit after work on Monday, deadlifts for strength then a workout packed with squat and presses, pretty much the ideal session for a runner working hard on leg strength and core stability.

Tuesdays are planned as the “faster” run session of theVLMW1p1 week, 3 x 1 mile efforts with a recovery of half the time taken to run the mile, went out WAY too fast for the first mile and was heading towards a mile PB till I caught myself, still paid for this on the other repeats, Mile 1 – 7:24, Mile 2 – 7:54 and Mile 3 – 8:25, not great but I’ll take them! Running laps around an industrial estate on a cold windy night with only the streetlights to see by is not much fun and definitely something I’ve not missed since giving up on speed work for the last 12 months!

My legs felt VERY heavy on Wednesday, probably a hangover from Mondays deadlifts, so I was glad to see pretty much all upper body work on the whiteboard when I turned up to the gym, I’m still not back to 100% since injuring my shoulder so I’m tentative about too much pressing, particularly overhead, but I know I need to work on this so it’s all about holding good form even though the weights I’m lifting feel super light.

Rest day Thursday then back to CrossFit for a conditioning class on Friday, bike sprints and burpees, so much more fun than running sprints for a similar stimulus without stressing my joints.

VLMW1p22 runs along the stunning Northumbrian coast to finish the week with 5 easyish miles on Saturday and a very enjoyable 10 miles for my weekly long run on Sunday, both of these felt great, even paced all the way through each and I even pushed the last mile of my long run up to tempo pace, not in the plan so probably not the best thing to do but I was feeling strong so gave it a push.

All in all a great first week, 22 miles, 3 CrossFit classes and with the exception of a meal out for my wife’s birthday my diet was on point too.

Bring on Week 2 😊


Been a while but London here we come!

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted, that isn’t to say I’ve not been busy training and racing but just lost the motivation to post when I wasn’t really striving for something new.

That changed just before Christmas when I was lucky enough to be offered a club space in the London Marathon 2020, to put this in perspective, I’ve entered the open ballot for this 11 of the last 12 years s and the club ballot for the last 5 years with no success. You can imagine how excited I am to get going, the only issue is that although my training has been consistent it’s been low slow mileage around CrossFit. Since finding out I’d gotten a place I’ve upped my mileage a little to take my long runs to nearer 10 miles which seems to be a good starting point for a marathon training plan.

So my 16 week plan starts this week, it’s built around 2/3 short to medium runs, 2/3 CrossFit sessions and 1 long run each week, going to include some of the Club Grand Prix events as part of the training so they should give me a chance to practice some race day kit/strategy.

So this is me back, at least for a while, all being well it’s weekly training posts and post race reviews for at least the next 16 weeks!