Sunday, 25 November 2018

Pink Floyd - Time

'And then one day you'll find, ten years' have got behind you'...

On these dark November days it’s far too easy to think of the impending Christmas Break and not to the end of 2018, that's just 36 days away. If you live life at a similar pace to me, the year has simply flashed by and it feels more like the 89th of August rather than the start of Advent - A 15th Marathon des Sables, a House-move and a mere Twenty-Two Marathons are now just dots in my rear view mirror. Whatever happened to the Long Hot Summer?

Anyway, apart from the obvious Christmas Day and Boxing Day Celebrations, the Winter Break provides an excellent time to build endurance with a series of Long Slow Distance runs - especially if you are running next year’s Marathon des Sables or have you eye on a Spring Marathon PB.

Yes, 2018 is nearly over folks - It’s time to start PLANNING 2019!

Really? Oh yes. You see, without a plan, there’s no hope. And there’s only 365 days until the next 25th of November, when I’ll be asking you just what you did in 2019 that made it a stand-out year - an ‘Annus Mirabilis’ rather than an ‘Annus Horribilis'.

Trouble is that it's dead easy to SAY you are going to turn over a 'New Leaf' in the 'New Year' but folk seldom do. Having the strength to keep 'On Point' with a 'New Direction' is super-tough. Doing it for 25 years' as I have livng 'Alcohol-Free', takes strength - takes concentration - takes balls. Doing it alone is even harder. But when you have a Coach to mentor your journey, interact with on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, it can make all the difference. It has for many people this year alone.

Whether you are trying out for Team GB, trying to lose weight or simply trying to be the person you've always wanted to be then I'm your man. Plucking up courage to make the call or drop the email is always tough. Doing it in January makes sense - doing it today is even better as you'll get an 36 days under your belt BEFORE 2019 even starts. What's there to lose - apart from 'Running Times', 'Excess Weight' or 'Addiction'.

Contact me now, I'm waiting to hear from you...

1,029 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons
9 Guinness World Records & 15 Marathon des Sables

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd - Part One

Emma Bird - AKA 'Birdie' in Full Flight...
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now'...

'Project Birdie' has been my pet project for the past 12 weeks or so to see if I can transform Marathon and Ultra-Marathon Runner, Emma Bird ('Birdie') from being an 'Average' Runner into an 'Awesome' Race-Winning Athlete. Emma contacted me following a recommendation from a previous client, saying that although she'd completed the Autumn 100 in 22hrs 25mins, her marathon PB was only 4hrs 4mins and had hit a bit of a wall concerning speed.

She immediately grabbed my attention because having completed a hundred well under 24 hours - her marathon PB simply didn't match. On speaking to Birdie, I immediately liked her no nonsense, open speaking approach and after breaking down some of her initial barriers to training faster and harder, we quickly found a happy balance to an agreeable training schedule, designed specifically around her busy schedule and highlighted some races to work towards.

Luckily for me, she's already built a huge base of 'Long-Slow-Distance' running, so a lot of the foundation and hard work was already in place and any opposition to spending hours out putting in the miles didn't exist. My task I felt was to shorten the runs, speed her up and add in some weekly 'Coleman-Power-Hours' to test her commitment and build the speed endurance that she'd need in the last 10km's of any race to succeed.

ParkRun became the speedwork part of the programme, with her 5km times quickly tumbling, much to the amazement of her Running Clubmates that didn’t know she was being coached.

Our first hurdle? Improving her 4hrs 4mins Marathon PB set in March '18 in Cyprus with only five weeks of working together. I was confident she'd smash the 3hs 56mins I'd set as a goal. And although the 4hr mark is always seen as a bit of a barrier, all I needed to do I felt was to add a huge dose of confidence to her tapering and rely on the training upgrade we'd put in place. I needn't have worried as I received a very excited Birdie phone-call post Richmond Marathon, announcing a new 3hrs 48mins PB saying she could have gone even faster. And she will, as sub 3hrs 30mins is now more than achievable.

Forward a month and a hard day out at the Beachy Head Marathon was excellent preparation for her biggest challenge to date - The Druid Challenge, a three-stage, three-day 84-mile Ultra-Marathon where I knew she'd shine not only in her age category (FV40) but could also podium. With a good hundred mile and marathon PB in the bag a sub-15hr Druid was certainly there for the taking. To soften the nerves, I recommended a steady run on day one, with a 5hrs 11mins (comfortable) time achieved. Her amazement of being second overall female and first age category only fuelled her determination and maintaining those positions, she ran the last day in a time of 4hrs 38mins for the 28 miles – simply amazing.

Our post-race analysis concluded that she would have won overall female with a quicker day one but contented with her overall result of FV40 winner and 14th position in the field of over 100 runners, it provides a firm foundation as we head into 2019 for faster times and even better results ahead. I asked Birdie what difference my coaching has made to her running and she said, ‘You've given me structure, belief in my ability and made me step out of my comfort zone!' - and how right she is.

Make sure you are 'Birdie-Watching' in 2019 as there's a lot more to come - I'll keep you posted on her progress and if you are stuck with 'Average' PB's you might find that my coaching can help you achieve the times you are more than capable of, just like 'Birdie'. All you need to is contact me here.

1,028 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons
9 Guinness World Records & 15 MdS

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Hard Times - Human League

I must say I enjoyed The Druid Challenge at the weekend especially as it was my 250thULTRA-marathon. It gave me the opportunity of meeting up with a lot of clients both new and old as well as some very special friends that I’ve met and ran with over the years.

The event celebrated its 10th Anniversary in style and it’s amazing just how fast those 10 years have flashed by. I remember one lady runner from the first year that impressed me so much that I ended up marrying her but that’s another story. The chance to talk to the runners on the Saturday Evening, got me thinking about how much has changed not only over the past decade but also the twenty-five years I’ve been running off-road marathons and ultras.

As I put on my trail shoes, calf-guards, speedos, compression shorts, short-sleeved shirt, long-sleeved shirt, running-jacket, rucksack (packed with mobile, battery-pack, headphones, gels, energy-bars and a hat – I smiled thinking about the short-shorts and vest I wore in my first Ultra along the Grantham Canal back in 1995. 

I ran that race marathon-hard on a very warm August Bank-Holiday without any of the above kit or supplies as I remember. There might have been some Soreen at some checkpoints and some Jelly Babies but it was a lifetime ago and the race has blurred now in my rear view mirrors. The feeling of accomplishment remains though – Races like Rowbotham’s Round Rotherham 50, The South Downs 80 & The Grand Union 145 are all deeply etched into my DNA having raced and given them my all.

In my opinion there’s nothing better than to have given your all. For instance, hitting the finish line after running the 55 miles from London to Brighton, (on the road) having run all the way is something I’ll never forget. Rocking backwards and forwards with my adrenaline still pumping and heart-beat throbbing was a wonderful feeling – those London to Brighton Medals (I did it three times) ers hard fought especially as you had to RUN the whole way and have a sub 3.30 marathon time even to qualify. Walk – and you were picked up by a minibus. I wonder how many modern-day ‘ULTRA-runners’ could manage that?

Did I run hard at Druid? I sure did, and I gave it everything I’d got which isn’t much post GBS I can tell you.

I believe if you are going to do something, be something or achieve greatness within – you have to live ‘The Dream’. I’ll be living ‘The Dream’ again tomorrow and will add more then.

Nos Da…

1027 Marathons, 250 ULTRAS, 9 Guinness World Records & 15 Marathon des Sables