Marathon Training – Oh Yes!!

So further to the last blog post, which was going to talk about Marathon training (but I got carried away talking about the recent ultramarathon that I walked), it is here instead, finally!

So yes, today I embark upon Week One (of 18) of Marathon training for the Berlin Marathon on 25th September. The details are as follows:

Training Plan:

I have chosen the Hanson Marathon Plan for this one, for no better reason than I have the book! Actually there is another reason, in that I used the Hanson Half Marathon Plan successfully to PB in the Great North Run. Oh and another one (!) – Hanson recommends a longest Long Run of just 16 miles in training. I remember last time when doing New York that the plan I used (from Runner’s World I think) went over 20 miles three times. I decided that was important for me at the time as I didn’t want the psychological barrier (or the dreaded wall) to hit me in the race itself. However, in reality the running of over 20 miles, taking over three hours, is absolutely knackering, and I’m sure added to too much tiredness and probably injury too. You live and learn I suppose. In fairness also, Melanie, with whom I did New York, did tell me that 20 miles in training was too much (she’d done four beforehand), but I refused to listen :). She actually also told me about the Hanson Plan, so I should add some acknowledgement/appreciation here, so I will!

Here is the plan written down:

It starts off nice and gently, thankfully….
….and then quickly gets very serious!

The plan uses a fairly typical mixture of Long Runs, Easy Runs, Tempo Runs and speed/strength runs. They all colour coded of course :).


The plan amasses some 717 miles of training, which I calculate probably means three pairs of trainers! I have of course been somewhat meticulously planning, and have bought said trainers already! I have a ‘rotation’ as they call it, of different shoes. I intend to use Nike Pegasus 39 (newly acquired this week, but I’ve used three different iterations of the Pegasus series and I love them – they just seem to fit me best in terms of comfort and running style (not that I have a style :D)) for my long/easy runs, punctuated by Nike Invincible for recovery/easier easy runs (!). Then I’ll use New Balance 1080 v11 for my tempo runs, and an old pair of Nike Vaporfly Next% (as used for the New York Marathon no less!) for my speed runs. Finally I have a newly acquired pair of minty coloured Nike Alphafly for Berlin. I’ve tried the latter ones out just once, and the jury is out as to whether I prefer them or the Next%, so we will see in due course. OK – so that’s FIVE pairs of trainers, I lied!

Nike Zoom X Alphafly – expensive but hopefully satisfying!!


So I might as well set out here that of course would love a PB! Now as I only have one marathon under my belt then it can only either be better or worse than before! For the record, I ran 3 hours 54 mins in New York, having been determined (no, absolutely possessed!!) to beat four hours, and so that’s the benchmark. This time I am aiming for 3 hours and 45 minutes, and that’s what every single minute of the training plan is aimed at. 3 hrs 45 mins is 8 mins and 34 seconds per mile. It’s not the fastest running pace, but it is for me the best I reckon I can do over the distance. I’ll be absolutely over the moon in fact if I can run under the Brandenburg Gate with 3hr 44mins and 59 seconds in my sights. You heard it here first, but there is a long long way to go before I can get properly thinking about that, although of course I am already!!


It had to be Berlin of course. Why? Well I have always had the approach that you might as well ‘go big, or go home’, and this for me is the biggest. Of the six World Marathon Majors, this is really the one for the runners too, being the flattest. It is where my idol Eliud Kipchoge set the current World Record too, over the very route that I will do, so if running in that man’s footsteps (ok, about two hours behind his, but even so!) doesn’t inspire you then nothing will. I think also just the big atmosphere and excitement gives you all of the adrenalin that you need to make sure that you give it your all, and get it done. And what better city to do it in!

Berlin of course has both the most amazing (and indeed poignant) history, and it is there on almost every corner for all to see. It doesn’t shy away from the past one bit, with the massive holocaust memorial in the centre, covering 200,000 square feet of ground. They even call it the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Then there is the architecture, from the Reichstag, to the remnants of The Wall, to the incredible museums, and the simply unforgettable Brandenburg Gate. The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most recognisable features in Europe, if not the world, and it symbolises power, unity, glory, peace and reunification all at the same time. When I walked under it for the first time it gave me goosebumps. To think that I will (all being well) run under it as I approach the finish line in September will be nothing short of utterly overwhelming. Berlin has so much else to see too, and when I did a city tour there it was the best I’ve ever been on. – Go, if you haven’t been, is all I’ll say.


So having rekindled my blog, I’ll update it weekly or I so like I did for New York. There’s no training partner this time, so just me myself and I. But I’m not short of motivation, desire, or the excitement of all that Berlin has to offer. Tickets/flights/hotel all booked, and it is time for the hard work to properly get underway………hopefully no cartilage injuries or lost key issues this time, but with me anything is possible! Watch this space……

Ultramarathon walks, and the time is nigh for the training to start….

So here we are in May already, and I can scarcely believe it. The year itself is going so quickly I almost cannot believe it, and of course so much is happening. We started the year still with the massive impact of Covid upon us all, and then of course the ongoing horrible and shameful assault of the Russians on the Ukrainian people hit everyone hard, and here we are with something called Monkeypox taking the headlines now. Where does it end?

On a personal note, since my last blog post I have retired! Not forever, I am almost certainly sure, but I have stopped working to take a break, and am currently a man of leisure. If you knew anything about my real life in the background of course then you’d know that ‘retirement’ for me thus far is the most unsedentary (is that even a word?) thing imaginable, but that’s another story. I’m also currently trying to let out my residence, a building that used to be a B&B (technically it still is….) as a holiday let, and that is consuming more time than I even have. I have also since the last post completed my first ultramarathon, of which a bit more later, and even more importantly, this weekend is my grandaughter’s first birthday, which makes me feel both old and immensely proud and happy in almost equal measure. The happiness is the overriding one, just in case you were wondering 🙂

So the ultramarathon you are wondering, what was all that about? Well after I moved to the Lakes in the summer of 2021, one of the first things I resolved was to do some trail running. And the best way for me to do basically anything at all, is to sign up to an event and then go and train big time for it, so that’s what I (apparently) did. Only trouble is, I completely forgot all about it (I kid you not). Life and stuff just got in the way, and although I joined Ambleside Athletic Club (which is basically a lot of very enthusiastic trail runners doing a lot of competitive events, the likes of which I could just about do on my hands and knees in my dreams), I haven’t done any proper trail running at all.

So fast forward about nine or ten months, and an email lands from the organisers of The Lap, a 47 mile ultramarathon around Lake Windermere, very close to where I live, with my entry details and bib number etc. When I first saw it I seriously thought it was either a joke or a mistake. I had (and in fact still have!) zero recollection of entering, despite the fact that I apparently paid a £95 entry fee! The Lap, it turns out, is one of the UK’s premium ultramarathons, has 8,500 feet of climbing, and was at one point a qualifying or points scoring race for the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc, the world’s most prestigious ultramarathon. I looked at the requirements (the event was in 10 days time) and thought ‘not a snowball’s chance in hell can I even walk it’, but then decided in the next moment that I wanted to do it, and set about trying to do just that.

‘Doing it’ it turned out, was just as much of a logistical nightmare as the physical one which was undoubtedly about to befall me. The compulsory kit list alone (“a compulsory kit check will be carried out before and after the event, and if you are not carrying the requisite equipment you will be immediately disqualified from the event”) was huge, and contained several items which I certainly didn’t possess. But after a few trips to a great shop in Kendal (Pete Bland Sports in case you are interested!) I got all I needed i also took the opportunity to get myself some new trail shoes too – why not!

I decided ultimately to walk the event, as trying to run event part of it would have resulted in a DNF at best, and an injury more likely, so I opted to be sensible/careful, for me at least!

i decided ultimately that I would walk the event, as trying to run even part of it without having trained would have resulted in a DNF at best, and injury more likely, so i opted to be sensible/careful, for me at least!

It was a brilliant event in the end. I did walk it, although too briskly, with the occasional half jog on some of the earlier downhill sections. My lack of training meant that after about 34 or so miles, i could have happily given up. However, a lot if determination and a well placed poo break (!) put me in better spirits, and I soldiered on until the end, in a what was a very pleasing, if very tiring 14 hours and 46 minutes.

I’d thoroughly recommend the event to anyone thinking about it. Helped albeit by amazing weather (if a little too hot, but you can’t be too picky), everything was just great, from the food and drink at feed stations, to the setup of the base camp, to the friendliness of the marshalls, the great signposting (1,600 route markers apparently), and the brilliantly efficient event staff. As an example, I’d forgotten (Ok, I didn’t read the instructions properly) to take my half way bag (we were allowed to take a bag with a change of shoes and socks in for the half way point) with me to the registration the night before the event. A wonderfully helpful guy called Tommy, upon hearing of my disappointment in myself told me to bring it the following morning instead, and he personally saw to it (at 5:30 in the morning) that it got driven to the half way point for me later that day. Fantastic and over the above service or what?

High above Windermere near the summit of Latterbarrow, gasping for air!

And finally at the finish almost 15 hours later – I wasn’t as fresh as I seem to look!!

So next let’s talk about how the marathon training is going to shape up – it is only two days away now, and I am ready, I think for whatever it throws at me……….probably!