The Virgin Money London Marathon is done and dusted, you've been thinking about nothing else since at least January and hopefully all your preparation paid off and the day went how you'd imagined it would go while trudging through the rain in the dark throughout winter.
You will be feeling a range of emotions....elation, pride, relief, euphoria and achievement...but now what!? Is that it? For some people, they will be happy with their medal and will hang up their running shoes, satisfied in the knowledge that they've ticked the 'run a marathon' bucket list box. For many others...this will be the start of something special, perhaps a new found love that you can't bear to be without?
With this in mind, I thought i'd offer you some ideas on where to take your running next...
Enter another marathon!!!!
Hadn't thought of that had you!? In all seriousness though, if you loved the marathon so much then why not simply do it again? There are some amazing marathons to enter all around the world, from small local affairs that cost £10 and you get a piece of cake at the end, to full on running extravaganza's (just like London) that will blow your tired little mind with excitement. Here are a couple of cool Autumn marathons with places still going that might tickle your fancy:
Amsterdam Marathon - They say it's "one of Europe's most popular running events", although places are still available!
Loch Ness Marathon - Beautiful area, cheap entry, and monster sightings guaranteed (not guaranteed, he's gone AWOL!), sounds like a winner to me!
Obviously you now have at least one marathon under your belt now, so you have a PB to chase, if you want some help with this, then I can recommend an excellent coach who offers both online and face to face coaching. Learn more here.
Run an ultra?
Hang on, running the marathon was tough enough, and quite far enough, thank you. I'm not going any further! Plus marathon training took up too much time as it is!
Well, let me break some good (?) news to you, you can easily run a 50k entry level ultra marathon off the back of marathon training. You will probably even find it easier than the marathon! Why? Many ultra's are actually much less stressful affairs than the circus of the London Marathon, you'll be in the countryside, surrounded by nature and you'll have no pressure of getting a PB. You can even WALK if you need to, in fact, walking is ENCOURAGED!! I once stopped for an Ice Cream on the beach when running an ultra, and I ended up winning!
There are loads of cool events to have a crack at, many of which you can find via my friends over at RunUltra. Take a look, and see if anything catches your eye.
Nervous of entering an ultra? Well why not join one of my guided trail runs? I offer a 30 mile entry level run, where we take our time, enjoy a day out and have a good laugh in the process. If you do decide to move on to ultras, then I can recommend a good coach again! :)
Try trail running?
Running roads is hard on your legs, full of things that could run you over and can generally, in my opinion, get a bit tedious. You've got fitness in your legs from months of hard work, so why not take advantage of this new found fitness and try hitting some trails?
The UK has an incredible network of trails and amazing countryside to explore. You will not regret heading into the wild and running some stunning routes. Forget about times and mile splits, simply enjoy being around nature, enjoy the woods, run along the beach, run up the biggest hill you can find and take in the view. Running trails is hugely rewarding and will give you a new lease of life. If you enjoy it, then look at entering a trail marathon (there are plenty of those too!). ALSO, running trails will get you fitter, faster and stronger, so if you do return to the roads, you'll smash that PB out the water.
If you are nervous about hitting trails on your own, or want to join a group, then it just so happens that I offer guided trail runs of varying distances, from 4 miles upwards, so come along and see what all the fuss is about. If you fancy having your own adventure but don't know where to start with the planning, then I can help with that too! Just get in touch to discuss, we'll go wherever you want!?
Have a rest?
Training for, and running, that marathon was bloody knackering right? You want a rest right? That's cool too, enjoy your achievement and enjoy the rest, you've earnt it and you deserve it. I would say though, don't stop completely if you have intentions of continuing to run races further down the line, you don't want to be starting from scratch again do you!? Go for a few easy runs over the coming weeks, keep those legs moving and then when you feel ready, dig this blog out again and see if any of the previous suggestions seem more enticing.
The Virgin Money London Marathon is right around the corner and I'm getting a lot of questions about the race. So I thought I'd record this little vlog to offer some quick tips for the day.
I'm racing this year and I can't wait, I hope to see you on the course somewhere, give me a wave if you see me.
The Marathon Des Sables starts in 1 day and 15 hours and there will be plenty of people nervously getting ready to travel to Morocco, and many already there. Hopefully this blog post isn't too late, but I thought it might be useful to share 5 last minute tips for those hardy runners heading to the desert for the adventure of their lives.
1. Trust in your training...EVERYONE on that bus to the camp will be saying they've not done enough, and some won't have done enough, but you need to be confident that you did the best you could with your training and there is no point in stressing about what you haven't done, focus on what you have done and be positive.
2. Race your own race...don't suddenly change your plans for the race based on what others are doing. This is your challenge and you need to look after yourself and be sensible. Pace your race and don't worry about what others are doing.
3. If they offer you 2 bottles of water at a checkpoint, take 2 bottles of water...I watched people ditching 1 bottle on the occasions we were given 2, and many regretted it further down the route. Take both bottles with you and if you don't use them both, fair enough, but you will be kicking yourself if you run out and you've still got 1 hour to the next checkpoint. It could spell the end of your race.
4. Be organised in camp...make sure you know where all your kit is, have a plan for eating and drinking and don't leave things until the last minute, you don't need any added stress during the race by not being organised with your kit, food and time.
5. Don't sleep near the Aussies...those guys aren't good at being quiet, last asleep, first awake ;)
Good luck, enjoy the race and HAVE FUN.
If you are reading this and you are doing the race in 2018, then check out my MdS Coaching Package.
I'm very lucky to be endorsed by a number of brands and companies, and I wanted to write a short blog post about one of those companies...FitBites. It's worth noting that I only align myself with companies that offer a product that I enjoy, and will get good use out of...
For those that are unfamiliar, FitBites are basically energy balls, AMAZING energy balls, and I'm not just saying that. They are 100% natural, raw energy balls with superfoods to give you that extra nutritional boost. They originate from the ultra running world as they were inspired by the mighty Mohamad Ahansal, multi Marathon Des Sables winning Moroccan and all round ultra running legend. When racing, Mohamad simply crushed dates and almonds into a small ball, popped them into his backpack and he was off. ‘Keep it simple and keep it natural guys’ were his words, and so FitBites were born.
I've been using them for training in the mountains for the Berghaus Dragon's Back Race and they have been amazing, you get 2 balls in each pack which is the perfect sized snack while on the move, with some amazing flavours. They pack some pretty awesome nutritional value too, as you can see below.
I'll be dishing these out to some lucky runners who come on my adventures over the next few months, you're in for a treat.
Something new...most weeks now I will be tackling YOUR running questions, make sure you join the discussion over in the new Running Adventures Facebook Group.
Those kinds folks at Millet Sports recently asked if I would test and review some Asics running gear for them. They sent me 2 items, the Asics 2-in-1 Men's Running Shorts and the Asics Long Sleeved Seamless Top.
I've been testing both for a couple of weeks and first impressions....very nice.
The shorts have a relatively long inner which feels close fitting but comfortable. The best thing for me was the lack of long labels that couldn't be removed, they are really a pain aren't they!? The shorts felt good and also have a couple of handy pockets, one with a zip so you don't lose your house key down a drain somewhere! I went out on a relatively warm day and didn't have any 'issues' caused by sweat which is always a bonus.
The top is seamless...literally! It's fits well and is super comfy. Again, no annoying labels scratching away which is appreciated. I was worried about overheating in this top but it's claim of being able to maintain 'optimal body temperature' actually works, I felt good throughout my run and had no problems at all.
Conclusion...if you are looking for some good, versatile kit that will work well in the hills as much as it will on the roads, then this is worth your money. Really comfortable and does what it claims to do, which isn't always the case is it!?
Late last week, myself and my good running buddy, Ash, heading up to Wales once again for some more Berghaus Dragon's Back Race recce'ing and training. We were excited as this was the section we'd been looking forward to the most, day one of the race, 30 miles of mountains across Snowdonia, finishing with Crib Goch and Snowdon itself.
We arrived in Snowdon to strong winds, and snow capped mountains. We managed to find some shelter to put our tent up out the wind and rushed to the pub for warmth, food and planning.
It had become apparent very quickly, that Crib Goch is unlikely to be an option, the mountain rescue teams were suggesting the need for crampons and ice axes if attempting it in these conditions, that's not to mention the wind. We decided that we would take the Pyg track instead, should weather allow, meaning we can still summit Snowdon at the end of a long 30 mile day, and we could at least take a good look at Crib Goch.
The next morning we woke up, and the weather seemed relatively calm! We were excited to get going and our taxi took us to Conwy Castle, for the start of our adventure. We knew time wasn't on our side due to the shorter days, so we had a plan B which would allow us to get back to the campsite and do Snowdon the following morning if we ran out of time, but we were confident we could give it a good go in one day, as always there was one rule...no faffing!
We started well, the sun even came out briefly, and we hit the first set of hills. All was going well and we starting getting higher, at around 400m (altitude) the rain started and the wind began to make itself known, but it wasn't too bad. We kept going, making decent enough time.
We got to Tal Y Fan at 600m and the wind was getting stronger, thankfully we had the benefit of a stone wall protecting us, so we cracked on...enjoying the mountains and relatively easy terrain.
Then things started to go against us...we started climbing even further up towards Carnedd Y Ddelw (how the hell do you say that?) and then Drum (easier!) and we lost our wall! We were hitting the snow line and the wind was ferocious, whipping hail and snow into our faces and against our bodies. I shouted at Ash that we simply needed to get our heads down and churn the section out, keep moving, then we could reconvene a make see assess our situation when we momentarily dropped down to a road and (hopefully) more shelter. We cracked on...
We didn't get far, at the peak of Drum we were now soaked through, getting battered by the wind and snow and we were both starting to get cold, we sheltered behind some rocks and had a chat.
Me: "What are we gaining out of this?"
Ash: "Not much, maybe hyperthermia?"
Ash: "We've gotta get off this mountain..."
I'd started to lose feeling in my fingers, we hammered down the hill to where the wind was slightly calmer and we were back into rain rather than snow. We'd abandoned our adventure, totally gutted, we'd barely made 10 miles out of 30!
We made our way down a valley to the nearest village.
It was this moment that we realised neither of us had any money or bank cards on us! We ALWAYS make a point of having both on us incase of emergency, and the one time we BOTH forget, we need them!!
We then spent an hour chatting to village folk about how we might be able to get back to our camp with no money, thankfully a nice lady in a pub (one of those pubs that you walk into and think you'll instantly get stabbed! Don't judge a book by it's cover and all that!) called us a taxi, we could pay him when we got back to the tent.
We were cold, disappointed, soaked and had spent a fortune on taxis! We were safe though, and you can't put a price on safety!
Many will be reading this and thinking 'what a bunch of wimps, it's hardly Everest', but you have to make the right call on these things, we were in minimal running kit, we had waterproofs but the wind had started to cut right through us. The last thing we wanted to do was bail, we'd driven 5 hours to get there, but many in the village who we spoke to told us stories of mountain rescue going up that very mountain every weekend to rescue people in our situation. We did the right thing.
What's more, it turns out there was an avalanche on the Pyg track at the EXACT time we should have been there, so if we'd cracked on, then I probably wouldn't be sitting here in my warm office writing this blog today!
So whats the point of this blog post???
Well I guess it's simply to encourage people to always put personal safety first, yes we take risks by running in the mountains, but always have an eye on an escape route, and always carry a frigging bank card!
It's disappointing when things don't work out, but disappointment is better than a mountain rescue team giving up their time to hoist you out with hyperthermia.
Stay safe out there folks.
The Virgin Money London Marathon is now ONLY 7 weeks away! A lot of people will be wondering about where they should realistically be with their training at this stage.
A lot of people will also read this and FREAK OUT about their training, if you are slightly behind, DON'T PANIC and suddenly up your mileage, otherwise you risk injury. Maybe consider one of my marathon training plans, together we can get you to the start line feeling ready, confident and focused. Don't leave it much longer though, time is running out.
Here are a few thoughts about where you should be with your preparation at this stage...
It's not as bad as it sounds, with a bit of planning and focus, you can make sure you are on track for an epic day, and maybe even a PB!?
I'll be there on the day, I don't generally do road marathons but you don't turn down the chance to run London do you!?
See you there.
If you read my blog, follow me online or ever actually speak to me, you will know that I am training for the Berghaus Dragon's Back Race in May.
Part of my prep for this epic race is to recce as much of the route as I can, the race involves self navigating so doing recces isn't just good training, but is a great way to learn the route, minimising the risk of messing up and running in the wrong direction during the race. Something you don't really want to do in a race that already involves 300km and 16,000m of ascent over 5 days.
This past weekend saw me and my running buddy Ash, joined by fellow Dragon's Back hopefuls Eoan and Lisa, as we took on day 5 of the race, the final day.
We struck lucky, as the weather was incredible! The mountains were snow covered but the sun was breaking through the clouds, warming our smiles as we enjoyed some epic running. The recce was a success and we didn't get lost once, which is certainly an improvement on our last recce. Thankfully, the route is a bit easier going than other days on the race, although we still have to cover 34 miles and 2313m of ascent, not for the faint hearted!
Below, you can see some pics from the weekend, and watch a little video.
Now what are you waiting for...go hit those mountains.
What do you do with a spare day, a thirst for adventure with a couple of mates, and £30!?
Why not fly to Northern Ireland, and hit up the spectacular Mourne Mountains?
Myself, Adventure Photographer James Carnegie and Discovery Channel's very own endurance hero; Sean Conway decided to go and have some fun. We grabbed return flights into Belfast at £25 each and hired the crappiest, cheapest, little car we could find for £15. Drove to the Mourne Mountains, ran around for 5 hours before driving back to the airport in time for our flight home.
The Mourne Mountains did not disappoint and apart from the odd hiker, we had the whole place to ourselves! They are super easy to get to and I would encourage anyone with a spare day or two to go and explore.
It's amazing what you can do in a day if you really want to. Keep an eye out for the full feature in March's issue of Men's Running, out now.
Fancy coming next time? Check out #FridayRunClub.
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