Now for some mud!

So five months have now passed since my last blog, where I waved a fond goodbye to my university days. Back then I outlaid my summer goals of running fast on the track, before turning my attention to the European Cross Country Trials in November. Unfortunately the assault on my PBs that I’d been hoping for never really materialised, with achilles problems and illness robbing me of the consistent training I needed.

Luckily things now seem to be on the turn! Since the start of the new academic year I have found employment as a teaching assistant in a specials needs school just outside of Cardiff. This has given me a consistent routine around which to base my training, something that I was lacking as a student, and which I’ve found immensely helpful. The rhythm of the day is now simple; run number one, work, run number two, bed. I’ve got little energy for much else!

I knew that if I was going to have any chance of making the GB U23 team then I’d have to go for broke and be prepared to take a few risks. With eight weeks to go before the champs, and finally free of illness and niggles, I set out an ambitious plan which involved six consecutive 100 mile weeks before a two week taper. I had previously completed a handful of 100+ mile weeks, but they had always been sparsely peppered within blocks of lower mileage and certainly weren’t the norm. I also knew that there’d be no point in simply grinding out the miles if I couldn’t also complete the hard sessions/workouts needed to run well over 10 Km of mud. I was just hoping that the years of training had prepared my body enough to cope!

I am now glad to report that I am halfway through the tough six week block, and my body has responded even better than I’d hoped. Yes, I am tired pretty much all the time, and yes, some sessions haven’t quite gone to plan. However on the whole everything has gone smoothly, sessions keep improving, and most importantly I am still injury free! Below is an outline of the last three weeks. I won’t go into a deep analysis, but the basic principle has been to rotate between 5K paced sessions to work on speed, long tempos to develop endurance, and then 10K sessions to work on specific race intensity. All combined with lots of easy miles of course!

Week 1 starting 03/10/16

Mon: 6 miles (6:34/M), 6 miles (6:24/M)

Tue : 6 miles (6:51/M), 5x1Km + 5x400m

Wed: 6 miles (6:55/M), 8 miles (6:30/M)

Thu: 6 miles (6:58/M), 8x1200m + 1x400m (3:35 and 65s avg)

Fri: 6 miles (7:04/M), 6 miles (6:58/M)

Sat: 7 miles (6:52/M), 8 miles (6:26/M)

Sun: 19 miles including 15 miles Tempo at 5:36/M

Total = 104 miles at 6:33/M average


Week 2 starting 10/10/16

Mon: 6 miles (6:54/M), 6 miles (6:40/M)

Tue: 6 miles (7:00/M), 4x4mins + 5x400m

Wed: 6 miles (7:00/M), 8 miles (6:38/M)

Thu: 6 miles (6:54/M), 6x1M in 4:52 with 2:00 recovery + 1x400m in 65s

Fri: 6 miles (7:16/M), 7 miles (6:39/M)

Sat: 8 miles (6:46/M), 6 miles (6:36/M)

Sun: 6 miles (6:56/M), Gwent XC League- 4th (5:18/M)

Total = 102 miles at 6:42/M average           


Week 3 starting 17/10/16

Mon: 6 miles (6:59/M), 5 miles (6:45/M)

Tue: 6 miles (6:47/M), 14 miles including 10 miles at 5:13/M

Wed: 6 miles (6:54/M), 8 miles (6:33/M)

Thu: 6 miles (7:12/M), 2x2K in 5:56 + 3x1K in 2:58

Fri: 6 miles (6:53/M), 6 miles (6:30/M)

Sat: 6.5 miles (6:47/M), 5×6:00 of undulating XC in spikes with 2:00 recovery

Sun: 8 miles (6:42/M), 6 miles (6:29/M)

Total = 104 miles at 6:32/M



A Bid to Be Better

Well it’s all over. After four of the best years of my life, I am now no longer a student. However before I face the real world, with all the joys of full-time work and starting to chip away at my colossal student loan, I thought I’d give this running malarkey a proper go.

Way back in February I had a bit of a breakthrough performance, coming 8th in the British Universities XC Champs and earning myself a reserve spot on the team for the World Student XC Championships. This was probably the best race of my life, but at the same time I was pretty gutted to miss out on automatic selection through being outkicked over the last 100m by Jack Rowe. Despite this, and resigned to the fact that I probably wouldn’t be selected, I knew I was in the best shape of my life. Bolstered by my performance I got quickly back into training with the Inter Counties XC Champs and then a debut at the Manchester Marathon being the major goals.

If training had been going well before the British Universities XC, it went even better afterwards! I couldn’t quite believe some of the sessions I was doing which included;

  1. 22 miles with an average pace of 5:22/M
  2. A very windy 5K, 5K, 3K in 15:50, 15:42 and 9:26
  3. 3 x 1M on the treadmill with 2 minutes recovery all in 4:40

This period also included the British Universities Indoor Champs where, despite very little track work, I managed an 8:24 in the 3000m heats followed up by 8:23 and 5th in the final the next day.

Needless to say that I was really looking forward to running for Cornwall at the Inter Counties in Birmingham, believing that I’d made some really good progress over the previous four weeks. However on the Wednesday beforehand I got the call from Mick Woods saying that Jonny Davies had unfortunately gone down ill and would I like to run for GB at the World Student XC Champs? At 8AM the next morning I was off to Cassino, Italy! After ten years of training and dreaming, I’d finally got my first international vest at the age of twenty-two. Going into the race its self I set myself the goal of being one of the top four scorers for the team, and with Andy Heyes unfortunately pulling out at the last minute with Achilles problems, I only had to beat one GB runner. To cut a long story short I had a near-perfect race and eventually finished 30th overall and 2nd GB runner home! The whole trip had been an incredible experience and just left me wanting more.

However good Italy had been, it was ultimately the downfall of my marathon preparation. On returning to Cardiff I immediately went down with illness. I’d completely buried myself in the race in Italy and can’t remember ever pushing myself so hard in my life. This, combined with the stress of getting my dissertation handed in, was just a little bit too much. I managed to convince myself I was fine however, and a week later I was off to Lisbon to run the half marathon accompanied by forty others from Cardiff University AC. I managed to scrape under 68 minutes but felt bad from mile one. Two nights of little sleep and lots of drinking followed and by the time I got back to the UK I was really suffering. If I’d been feeling a little under the weather before Lisbon, I was now properly ill!

I did just about get well in time for Manchester, but I’d done very little but jog for thirty minutes for the previous three weeks. My Dad was running too and my whole family had come up to support so I thought I may as well give it a go. After going through half way in 70 minutes and feeling really good even up to 17 miles, I eventually staggered round in 2:27. Obviously not the time I’d been aiming for originally but in the end I was just happy to finish.

Four weeks of minimal training unfortunately turned into six as I had issues with my left hamstring post-marathon. I can now happily report however that I’m back into full training and have managed to get four decent weeks in the bank. This has included a 31:47 at the BUCS 10,000m and then three weeks later a 31:19 at Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs, one of the best races I’ve ever attended! So everything seems to be going in the right direction and I feel confident that I’ll be able to attack a few PBs later in the summer.

So the plan for the next year is to get a part-time job and basically train as much as possible. Hopefully I’ll be able to top up my income a bit with some prize money too! The experience from Italy has given me a lot of confidence that I can perform at a high level, and I’m certain I’ve still got a good bit of improvement left in me. Looking forward, the aim this summer is to beak my 14:36 5,000m PB, before moving onto the roads in the autumn and then major goal being the European XC Trials in November.

Thanks for taking the time to read my scribbles and if anyone knows of any A) part-time working going in the Cardiff area or B) any races with decent prize money that won’t all be taken by Africans, please give me a bell!



The Individualisation of Training

So for those of you who don’t know, I’m currently targeting my debut marathon (Manchester) on April 10th, and I’m super excited about this new challenge! Having run for as long as I can remember, and competing in literally hundreds of races from 1500m up to the half marathon, it’s been very refreshing working towards something I’ve never attempted before. For me, with literally no speed (200m PB of 28.8), I’d always thought that the marathon would eventually be the event which would suit me best. However, I got bored of waiting and, despite a fair bit of criticism, will be making my debut at the ripe old age of 22 (just!).

Now as I’m sure you can imagine, my training over the last few weeks has looked quite different to that of the past, and it’s come with some pretty surprising results! Since Christmas my program has been centred around hard long runs (of up to 22 miles), and long interval sessions (e.g. 5 x 2M with 3 minutes steady recovery), with a massively decreased emphasis of the classical short interval sessions (i.e. 5 x 1km). The outcome? Massive personal best performances at both BUCS XC (8th and just missing out on selection for the World Students XC Championships) and the BUCS Indoors 3,000m (8:24 in the heats and 8:23 in the final for 5th)!

Now how does this makes sense? I’d spent years hammering out the traditional bread-and-butter interval sessions (e.g. 10 x 400m with 60s recovery), which have always been labelled as the gold standard for middle distance training, with modest success. Yet with only one track session in the previous two months, and lots of running at half marathon to marathon pace, I managed to smash my 3,000m PB twice in the same weekend?! This got me thinking so much that I thought it deserved reviving my blog!

Everyone exists somewhere on the spectrum between natural sprinter and born endurance runner. Most people have heard of the expressions fast-twitch and slow-twitch, which refers to the type of muscle fibres that everyone possess. In fact we all have a mixture of the two, with the ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch dictating whether we are more speed or more endurance orientated. You can get a good idea of where you sit on the spectrum by simply looking at how you perform at different distances. If you get better (relative to everyone else) as the race distance increases, then it’s likely that you are more slow-twitch dominated. Conversely if you do best at the shorter distances (e.g. 800/1500m) then it’s likely that you rely more on your fast-twitch muscle fibres to get you round. Using myself as an example, it is pretty clear that I am VERY slow-twitch muscle fibre dominated. This is probably best demonstrated from my national rankings which jump from 611th to 103rd to 90th to 42nd, as I step up though 1500m, 3km, 5km and HM. It’s also reinforced by the fact that I have NO basic speed. The world and his dog would beat me in a 100m race!

OK great, but is this actually useful? Well yes! If you are like me and are slow-twitch dominated, then you are probably going to get your best results from taking a more endurance approach to training. However if you do have some basic speed, then maybe more fast interval sessions will get you in PB shape. In short, it’s about playing to your strengths! Do note however that everyone should be doing both short/fast speed and longer/slower endurance work; it’s where the balance lies that needs to be found.

I’ll finish with an example, going back again to BUCS Indoors. I finished 5th in 8:23.15 while my Cardiff University team mate, Andrew, just pipped me for 4th in 8:22.68. Although we practically ran the exact same time, we both took very different approaches to training. Andrew took the probably more traditional approach of 1500m/3K/5K paced intervals, hill reps and short 3-4M tempo runs. Having a higher percentage of fast-twitch fibres (he’s run a 52s 400m and 1:53 800m), this training probably suited him very well as it played to his strength, SPEED!, whilst also still including a nice balance of endurance. As already mentioned I took a completely different approach, relying heavily on fast tempo runs and long intervals i.e. marathon training. I’m completely convinced that if we had both swapped programs, then neither of us would have performed as well as we did. I think that the point I’m trying to make here (in a very rambling way!) is that when creating a training program for someone, it should be personalised to the individual and not the event. Just because you’re training for the same event, it does not mean that your training should be the same!!!

Anyway, I hope you’ve found this complete thought-dump interesting, if not helpful! I’ll leave you with my training plan over the last few weeks, and what I’ve got lined up between now and Manchester!

Training plan: Manchester Marathon

Find individual sessions on my Strava profile:

Training Update

Way back in early May I ran the BUCS 10,000m and frankly had an abysmal race. It was my track debut for the distance and I was completely unprepared for the psychological battering of the 25 seemingly-endless laps. I also was missing a bit of running fitness having spent Easter cycling through Italy, Switzerland and France which certainly didn’t make the already grueling event any easier. I couldn’t wait to put the race behind me and get back to some serious training. However the day after my race, whilst watching the women’s 5000m final, I decided to vault the track’s fence… and completely c**ked it up! My eager return to training had to be postponed by two weeks while my very bruised and swollen right shin recovered.

I’m very glad to report however that, after the minor hiccup, the last eight weeks of training have gone very well. I’ve been running a lot more miles than I ever have before and feel like I’ve coped with the extra stress reasonably comfortably. Since arriving back home in Cornwall for the summer my training has changed slightly. Firstly I’ve been using a lot of local races to replace the usual harder sessions. I love racing and mentally it’s much easier than grinding out a tough session by myself. I’ve also been forced into running a lot slower for my easy and steady runs due to the challenging terrain. When in Cardiff I do try to do as much of my running as possible on the soft grass in Bute Park, but this doesn’t compare at all to the unmerciful trails of Bodmin Moor.

Looking ahead the main goal is to run fast at the Cardiff 10K and Cardiff Half in early autumn, and with both being a part of the Run Britain series should attract strong fields. More short term I’m running the 5000m for Cornwall at the South West Champs tomorrow (19th July) with the aim to run a quick race. If the conditions are OK I definitely feel I’m in shape to challenge my PB of 14:36 set last year when winning the Welsh Champs.

Week starting 18/05/15

Monday- 8M easy, PM 5M easy including 5x10s hills

Tuesday- AM 4×8 minutes with 90s recovery + 6x30s/60s, PM 6M easy

Wednesday- AM Gym, PM 8M easy

Thursday- AM 5M + drills and strides, PM 8M steady

Friday- AM 4 x (3, 2, 1 minutes) with 1 and 2 minutes recovery, PM 7M recovery run

Saturday- AM Parkrun (15:29) + 7M easy, PM 6M easy

Sunday- AM 14M steady, PM Gym

105M total- Biggest ever week by about 15 miles!

Week Starting 25/05/15

Monday- AM 7M recovery run, PM 6M easy

Tuesday- AM 6M tempo (5:20/M) + 6x30s with 90 recovery, PM 6M easy

Wednesday- AM Gym, PM 9M steady (6:10/M)

Thursday- AM 8x60s with 60s jog, PM 9M easy

Friday- 3M jog (tired)

Saturday- AM 5M easy, PM 4M easy

Sunday- Bristol 10K, 15th in 31:05

84M total- Very happy with the race especially off pretty tired legs. Another big week in the bank.

Week starting 01/06/15

Monday- AM 6M recovery run, PM 6M easy

Tuesday- AM 6M recovery run, PM 9M easy

Wednesday- AM 6M easy, PM 12x400m with 60s recovery on grass track (avg 68.7 but very windy)

Thursday- AM Gym, PM 4M steady + 4x(30s, 60s) with 90s recovery

Friday- AM 7M easy, PM 4M easy

Saturday- British Athletics League, 3K S/C (2nd in 9:37 PB) and 5000m (2nd in 15:25)

Sunday- 18M steady (6:10/M with 300m of climbing)

86M total- Another good week of training and a 23s PB in the S/C, even with abysmal technique!

Week starting 08/06/15

Monday- AM 6M easy, PM 6M easy

Tuesday- AM 8M easy, PM 5x(400m, 200m) on windy grass track with 2:30 recovery (avg 65 and 30s)

Wednesday- 5M jog, very tired!

Thursday- 7M easy

Friday- 10M steady, 6M easy

Saturday- AM Parkrun (15:12) + 8x60s with 90s recovery, PM 7M recovery run

Sunday- 19M steady (6:17/M with 360m of climbing)

97M total. Took me quite a while to recover from last Sunday’s long run and was very early in the week. Wanted sub 15 for the parkrun but messed it up with a 2:50 1st km but good training session.

Week starting 15/06/15

Monday- AM 4M recovery run, PM 8x10s hills + 4x60s hills

Tuesday- AM 7M tempo (5:19/M) + 6x30s with 90s recovery, Noon Gym, PM 8M recovery run

Wednesday- AM 8M easy, PM 7M easy

Thursday- AM 4M easy, PM 2M jog (very tired)

Friday- AM 5M jog, PM Cardiff Summer Series 2M (1st in 9:32)

Saturday- AM 7M steady, PM 5M steady

Sunday- AM 5M easy, PM 5M easy

84M total- Good progression with the tempo run from the 6M I did last time. The 2M race was tough. Didn’t help myself by running the first half mile in 2:11!

Week starting 22/06/15

Monday- 5M easy + drills and strides

Tuesday- Cornwall 10,000m Champs (1st in 31:24)

Wednesday- AM 7M easy, PM 6M easy

Thursday- AM 6M easy, PM 9M easy

Friday- AM 11M steady (6:01/M), PM 5M easy + 6x15s hill sprints

Saturday- AM 5x1km on the roads with 60s recovery (avg 2:55) + 6x60s hills with jog back recovery, PM 7M easy

Sunday- 18M steady (6:22/M with 260m of climbing)

94M total- Was hoping to run quicker for the 10,000m. Got paced by James Ansell to two miles but then the next four by myself. 15:20 through 5,000m but then struggled to keep motivated knowing I was well clear of 2nd place. Very happy with Saturday’s session as this time last year I was averaging 3:00.

Week Starting 29/06/15

Monday- AM 6M recovery run, PM 8M easy

Tuesday- AM 5M easy, PM Boconnoc off-road 5M race (1st in 27:49 on a tough course) followed by 10x30s hills

Wednesday- AM 7M recovery run, PM 5M easy

Thursday- AM 6M easy, PM 5M easy including 6x15s hill sprints

Friday- AM 5M easy, PM Two legs of the Erme Valley Relays (approx 2.4M) in 11:58 (CR) and 12:07

Saturday- AM 6M easy, PM 9M steady

Sunday- 20M steady (5:52/M with 284m of climbing)

100M total- Great week! Tired for Boconnoc but a really nice scenic route and a comfortable win. Fantastic to get a course record at Erme Valley as some good athletes have run it and it was a very good confidence booster being only 9 seconds slower on my second leg of the night. Long run was also very pleasing but did completely wipe me out!

Week starting 06/07/15

Monday- AM 5M recovery run, PM 6M easy

Tuesday- AM 4M recovery run, PM 2.5M including drills and strides

Wednesday- AM 3M easy, PM Turkey Trot 4 miles (1st in 20:03 with 80m of climbing)

Thursday- AM 6M easy, PM 8M easy

Friday- Rest

Saturday- British Athletics League, 3k s/c (1st in 9:45) and 5000m (1st in 15:37)

Sunday- 18M easy (6:43/M with 250m of climbing)

69M total- Wanted to go sub 20 for the Turkey Trot but legs were still pretty dead from Sunday’s long run and it is a pretty tough course. Pretty tired all week and mileage a little down due to doing some pretty hard work as a labourer. Not enough sleep due to having to get up at 6AM to run! Still an OK week and always nice to win three races! Managed a 2:50 last km for the 5000m so seem to have at least a little speed in the legs.

My take on nutrition and diet

So before I give you my take on diet and nutrition I’ll start with a disclaimer. Although I’m studying for a physiology degree and have a general interest in healthy living I have no qualifications in nutrition.

One of my favourite quotes regarding diet comes from Olympic bronze medallist and 2:08 marathoner Charlie Spedding; “You can’t eat yourself fit”. However grab any popular running magazine off the shelf and a good 50% of the content will be on fad diets, weight loss and the latest “super-foods”. Now that’s not to say that having a good diet isn’t important, but I believe it’s ascribed far more significance than it actually deserves. If diet really was the be-all and end-all then Steve Jones (who was well known to have lived off a diet of chips and beer) would not still be the British record holder in the marathon. In fact read the biography of any of the British runners from the legendary 1980’s era and none are nearly as obsessed about diet as our current (slower) internationals. So far this post may sound like a justification to go out and eat whatever you want, as long as you get the training done of course. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that good nutrition is important if you want to reach your potential in sport, but obsessing about its finest details is of no benefit to anyone.

So although we’ve hopefully established that a good diet alone won’t allow you to run any faster, what it can do is help you get the biggest “bang for your buck” from your training. Providing your body with enough energy and building materials to sufficiently restock the fuel tanks and to repair the damage caused by training will allow for the full training adaption to take place. Say you’ve just finish a really tough interval session and in a hypoglycemic stupor you head straight to the local McDonalds, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be giving your body the nutrients it needs to recover, repair and ultimately get stronger.  Now on a one off occurrence it’ll make very little difference, but if this happens after ever training session for a year you’re probably going to be selling yourself short.

After all this talk about “good nutrition” what should your diet actually looking like? Just as in training variety and balance is key. If you get a nice mix of carbohydrates, fats and proteins from a range of unprocessed sources then you can’t go too far wrong. Basically a “runner’s diet” should be centred around low-glycemic carbohydrates with plenty of fruit and veg (definitely more than 5 portions a day!). This should be supported by a source of protein with ideally every meal as well as essential healthy fats from nuts, seeds, dairy etc.

Now this is a very general look at diet and nutrition. For example I haven’t talked at all about the timing of meals, the exact ratio of carbs:fat:protein, vitamin supplements, protein shakes or carbo-loading. But that was sort of the point of this article; get the very basics right and you’ll get 95% of the benefits that the right nutrition can provide. I’ll leave you with a plan of what I typically consume over a normal training day:

Post-run Breakfast:

Porridge made with semi-skimmed milk with banana, grapes, frozen mixed berries and seeds mixed in and topped with full-fat Greek yoghurt.


Cheese and ham sandwich with brown granary bread, spinach and tomato. Two pieces of fruit, normally orange, apple or pear. Chopped carrot, pepper, beetroot and cherry tomatoes.

Post-run Dinner

My breakfast and lunch are normally pretty similar from day to day. Dinner varies a bit more but a common one would be a chicken and vegetable casserole with rice or baked sweet potato with ham and lots of salad.


I’d like to say that I snack on nuts, fruit and yoghurt but that would be a lie. If I’m still hungry I’m much more likely to be found making the short walk to Tesco for a tub of Ben and Jerry’s or a packet of cookies!

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South West University Champs, Milan Half and 400 miles of cycling!

I’ve had quite an active four weeks since I last put up a blog. This has included an 400/800/1500m triple at the inaugural South West University Champs, a decent run at the Milan Half Marathon and then a 400 mile cycle through the Alps! So let’s start with the South West Champs, which feels like a very long time ago now being back on March 25th. This was the first running of the event, yet Cardiff University brought a 30 strong team down to Exeter Arena’s newly-laid track. Being only three days after my 67:19 at the Reading Half I decided to opt out of the 5000m in favour of an 800/1500 double. The 1500m was up first and, despite my legs still suffering from the 13.1 miles in racing flats, I thought I had a good shot of ratifying my three year old PB of 4:05. Unfortunately it was not to be. After an overly-ambitious opening lap of 62s it inevitably all went down-hill. Still, I was happy enough with my finishing time of 4:08, especially considering the complete lack of any 1500m paced training since before Christmas. Next I demonstrated my complete lack of any fast-twitch muscle fibers with a very average 2:05.7 800m, before stepping down even further to run a leg for our our hastily assembled B team in the 4x400m relay. Luckily we didn’t get our individual splits back, as I’m not convinced I went under 60 seconds!

Cardiff 4x4 B Team

Cardiff 4×4 B Team

Another four days later and I was back into my comfort zone as I stood on the startline of the Milan Half Marathon, again joined by many other Cardiff Uni athletics team mates. Despite this being the 5th race in a week I thought I’d recovered quite well, and was fully ready to take advantage of the pancake-flat course. Unfortunately I was wrong! Before even reaching the first Km marker I knew it was going to be a tough day! My breathing was completely fine, however my calves were screaming. Luckily though I managed to keep a clear head and set off at much more conservative pace than I had in Reading a week previously. I was also very lucky in finding myself settled in a good group of runners, where we all took turns at the front to help maintain the groups pace. In the end I managed a pretty consistent race with 5K splits of 16:03, 15:44, 15:58 and 16:12 which gave me a finishing time of 67:30. I’m 100% sure that if I’d been properly rested then I could have taken a modest chunk of my 66:47 PB which is a good confidence booster.

Milan Half Marathon- 16th in 67:30

Milan Half Marathon- 16th in 67:30

And so after a packed week of racing it was time for a break from running. Seeing as we still had some Easter break left, myself and fellow runner Owen Haswell had previously decided we’d make the most of the opportunity of being out in Milan by going for “a little cycle ride”. Starting from Milan we spent six days riding through the Italian, Swiss and French Alps to our final destination of Lyon. I think it’s fair to say the trip was a little tougher than we expected, but we both still had a great time and saw some pretty spectacular views!

Not a bad view overlooking Lake Bourget, France

Not a bad view overlooking Lake Bourget, France

After this nice “break” I’m now back into my normal training. The first run after spending all that time on the bike was more than a little odd. My legs just wanted to keep going around in circles! Thankfully I’m back into the swing of things and with a bit of luck I’ll be in peak shape for the 10,000m at the British University Champs (BUCS) on the 3rd of May. Below is an outline of my training since returning to the UK.


Thu 8th- 8 miles steady

Fri 9th- 6 miles easy

Sat 10th- AM 8 miles easy, PM 6 miles easy

Sun 11th- A hilly 17 miles steady (5:50/mile), PM Gym


Mon- AM 5 miles easy, PM 5 miles easy

Tue- AM 4 miles easy, PM 6×3 minutes on grass with 60s recovery

Wed- AM 5 miles easy, PM 4 miles easy then Gym

Thu- AM 4 miles with 5x20s sprints, PM 12 miles easy

Friday- 2M in 9:49 (was going for 3x2M but too tired)

Saturday- Rest

Sunday- Hilly 15 miles easy (6:20/m)


Mon- AM 4 miles easy, PM 4 miles easy

Tue- AM 2 x 5K with 3 minutes recovery (15:52. 15:52), PM Gym

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Injuries, BUCS Indoors, Inter Counties XC and the Reading Half Marathon

So looking back at my last few posts, each one begins with an apology for my lack of recent blogging activity; and keeping with tradition this one will be no different! Disgracefully I haven’t posted since the 3rd of January, where I left you with an account of my plans to steadily build up my training again after having to take a couple of weeks off due to injury. Unfortunately that’s not quite how it worked out! Impatience got the better of me and I far too quickly went back to bashing out 80 miles weeks. Inevitably I got injured again, this time with knee pain. After a further two weeks off, and most frustratingly being forced into side-lining the BUCS XC Champs in Brighton, I managed to get back to running. This set back however gave me time to reflect.

I’ve always been great at killing myself in training, and I get great satisfaction in setting weekly mileage PB’s or running a standard session faster than I ever have before. I also hate to miss scheduled runs and will regularly drag myself out the door even when every muscle in my legs is protesting! Now up to a point these are good attributes, however long-term they are unsustainable and will only end in injury. Hence my resolution is to be more relaxed about training. If I’m feeling extra tired I’ll skip a run, and I no longer feel the need to bury myself in every hard session. As part of this new outlook to training I’ve split with my coach of the last four years, Chris Wooldridge. Now Chris is a great coach and I learnt so much from him, as well as improving vastly under his instruction. However due to living in France Chris coached me remotely, mostly via email. Every 6 weeks or so I’d get a new schedule and I’d follow it to the letter. Whatever was written down that’s what I did! Maybe it was my slight autistic side shining through which wouldn’t let me deviate from the “master plan”, or maybe it’s just that when Chris started coaching my I was still quite young and believed that to improve I had to follow what he said to the letter. I don’t know, but what I do know is that to be truly successful you can’t stick to a rigid unyielding plan with no room for change.

And so for the last couple of months I’ve been self-coached, and although I’ve been setting up a rough training plan, I’ve been much better at adapting it to how I’m feeling. The actual content of my training has been pretty similar to what Chris has prescribed to me, with a nice variety of sessions targeting a large spectrum of different speeds. However one major difference, that I feel seems to be working well, is shifting from three hard sessions each week down to just two. This has allowed for extra recovery between sessions as well as increasing the length and the intensity of the long run a little. Following this setup I no longer feel like I’m permanently tired and nearly always feel ready run a good quality session.

The slight shift in training seems to have translated into some promising results. Back in February, and after feeling very underprepared, I managed to make the finals of the 3000m at the BUCS Indoor Champs. I even managed to run two PBs with 8:35 in the heats and 8:32 in the final which was a good confidence booster. A couple of weeks later I represented Cornwall at the Inter Counties XC Champs which also incorporated the World XC Trials. Again I managed to exceed all my expectations with 31st place, 40 places better than in 2014. Races wise that brings us up to this weekend where I ran the Reading Half Marathon/England Athletics Champs. This was particularly exciting for me as, due to a sub 67 minute clocking back in October at the Cardiff Half, I qualified for an elite entry place. I got my name on my race bib and everything!! Having a couple of good races under my belt and some solid (but not spectacular) training in the bag I was feeling quite confident that I could produce a good result. Maybe my confidence was a little too high, as due to an overly ambitious start I was seriously struggling towards the closing stages. To be fair to myself I did hold it together pretty well until the final mile, but at this point the wheels nearly completely fell off! After not being passed by a single runner since the start, eight went past me in the last five minutes which saw me finish in 24th place. Although not a perfect execution I’m still pretty happy with the race. For one I was the first U23 home which meant a £750 prize! The best hourly rate I’ve ever worked for by some way! And although the time was 30s slower than my PB set in Cardiff, the course wasn’t quite as fast and I’ve already mentioned my poor pacing.

So looking ahead, more long term I targeting a medal at the 10,000m at the BUCS Outdoor Champs in early May. However this Wednesday I’m dramatically stepping down in distance to complete an 8/1500m double at the inaugural South West University Champs in Exeter, before flying out to Italy on Saturday, again with the uni team, to race the Milan Half Marathon. I may treat the later as just a hard training run, depending on how recovered I’m feeling after all this racing! Anyway, I think that’s about it for now. Will try in future to keep this a bit more up to date. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading!

Complete with personalised race number! Far too excited about this!

Complete with personalised race number! Far too excited about this!


So quite scarily 2015 is now upon us, and once again I must apologise for the lapse in my blogging. The main reason for this has unfortunately been due to injury and I didn’t think that a mopy post about how I couldn’t run would be either interesting or exciting! Luckily I now seem to be on the mend and although feeling quite unfit I have been able to run for the last three weeks, albeit at a much reduced volume. The plan now is, just as the title of this post suggests, to steadily build my training back up again, with a longer term view of being in the best possible shape for the BUCS Outdoor Champs in early May. More immediately however I’ll be competing in the South West XC Champs on the 4th of Jan which should give me a nice indicator of where I’m at in terms of race fitness. From there I think it’ll just be a matter of getting in the miles and using the huge number of races that there are at this time of the year to drag me back to my peak. Anyhow, we’ll see how it goes, and here’s to 2015 being another fantastic year!


Monday- AM Gym, PM 30 mins on treadmill at 6:00/mile + 10 mins on cross trainer

Tuesday- AM Gym, PM 30 mins on treadmill at 5:50/mile + 10 mins on cross trainer

Wednesday- 30 mins on treadmill at 6:00/mile

Thursday- 10 mins @6:00/mile, 20@5:30/mile, 10@6:00/mile on treadmill

Friday- AM Gym, PM 7.2 miles steady

Saturday- Rest

Sunday- Rest

29 miles total


Monday- 3.7 miles steady

Tuesday- 8x50s hills with jog back recovery

Wednesday- 25 minutes steady + 4x10s hill sprints

Thursday- steady run including 4x90s hills with jog back recovery

Friday- 35 minutes steady

Saturday- 5×2 minutes uphill with 60s recovery

Sunday- Rest

31 miles total


Monday- AM 30 minutes steady, PM 25 minutes easy

Tuesday- 5×3 minutes with 60s recovery

Wednesday- AM 40 minutes steady, PM 30 minutes easy

Thursday- New years day “Brown Willy Run” which I treated as a long tempo run (~7 miles)

Friday- Rest

Saturday- 40 minutes easy + drills and strides

Sunday- South West XC Champs

56 miles total


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The streak of good races had to end somewhere I suppose!

So after months ago deciding to make the Euro XC Trials my main focus for the Autumn, when it finally came around I had a shocker of a race! To start off with everything was going to plan. Never one for fast starts I managed to get off the line in a reasonable position, and over the next lap and a half I steadily progressed through the field. I was picking off quite a few good scalps but when it really started to hurt, at the beginning of the third and final lap, my head just wasn’t quite in it. I knew I still had more to give, but I had begun to daydream, and in such competitive race I soon started to drift back down the field. It got to the point where I just didn’t care that known rivals were continuously passing me. I’d run out of fight and simply wanted to get to the finish line. I reckon I lost at least 30 places on that last lap which gave me a final position of 82nd. Certainly not the sort of result I was looking for (or expected!) going into the race.

Although I definitely did not give a full account of myself in the race, I also feel I’ve lost a little of the fitness that I had a few weeks ago. It’s been four weeks since my last real good week of training (89 miles), with hamstring troubles, recovering from the Leeds 10K and then not wanting to do too much before Liverpool resulting in a meagre weekly average of 50 miles for the last month. And unfortunately it wasn’t just mileage I was lacking, but also any truly good quality sessions.

However now it’s time to move on! Although I do have a couple of races left before the new year, Liverpool was the last “big one” and to be honest I’m very glad. I’ve got about an eight week gap now until the next serious competition (the BUCS XC Champs), and I’m really looking forward to getting back to the grindstone and getting in some good consistent weeks of training. 2014 was a fantastic year in terms of my running and I far exceeded my own high expectations. The most exciting part for me is that I know I still have a lot more progress I can make!

Not going to badly at this point! (1056)

Not going too badly at this point! (1056)


Monday- AM 6 miles easy, PM 5 miles easy
Tuesday- AM 6 miles easy, PM 3x (60, 45, 30s hills) with jog back and and 90s recovery
Wednesday- 6 miles easy
Thursday- AM 2×600, 200m, PM 9 miles easy
Friday- Rest
Saturday- 7 miles easy
Sunday- AM 3×6 mins tempo with 90s recovery, PM 7 miles easy

62 miles total


Monday- AM 6 miles easy, PM 6 miles including 4x10s hill sprints
Tuesday- AM 4 miles easy, PM 6x400m with 60s recovery
Wednesday- 6 miles easy
Thursday- 8 miles easy including strides
Friday- 3 miles with drills and strides
Saturday- Euro Trials
Sunday- 14 miles very easy

60 miles total

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Hamstring pulls, cross-training and PB’s!

So after everything going so well for the last three weeks, with me performing the best sessions of my life, everything went wrong on Friday the 7th. The preceding Wednesday had been a real struggle just to get out of the door and so I decided to take a day off on Thursday. Come Friday I was still feeling dead and not even feeling up to running easy, and so instead I thought I’d do a few drills and some strides (sprints). Bad idea! After the first one my left hamstring felt a little… odd, but I thought nothing of it and after a walk back recovery began stride number 2. This time the odd sensation was replaced by a sharp pain which saw me going from sprinting, to an awkward hop! Thus began the self-pitying hobble home.

Hoping it was just a twinge and that a nights sleep would set it right I tried running on Saturday, however again ended up walking home. I somehow still thought that trying to run the 2nd Gwent XC league on the Sunday was a good idea, and to be fair during the warm-up my hamstring didn’t feel too bad. However I’m pretty sure that the pain-free running was just down to the pre-race adrenaline that was pumping round my system, as after 1km of the race my hamstring experienced the same shooting pain as on Friday and I had no choice but to dejectedly limp off the course. Previously walking had been completely fine but even that now hurt. Safe to say I’d pretty much dismissed the possibility of running the Leeds 10K the following Sunday.

Monday saw the start of the dreaded cross training! The one silver-lining was that I could at least go on the cross-trainer and cycle pain-free, which was a real bonus as I would have had a pretty long walk to uni if I couldn’t ride my bike! On Tuesday I had a pretty positive trip to the physio at Agile Therapy where I was told that it was in fact only a minor strain and that if a gave it a week off from running it should be fine. It was already feeling a lot better and so on Thursday I went for a very tentative three and a half mile jog. To my elation it felt completely fine, and after another easy jog in the evening I was starting to think I may be able to at least start Leeds Abbey Dash 10K on Sunday.

By Saturday, with my hamstring now feeling completely fine, I’d managed to convince myself that I may actually be able to run a decent 10K time! My one concern was that, although I felt quite rested, I hadn’t run anything much quicker than 6:00/mile pace for nearly two weeks, which is a fair bit slower than my PB 10K pace of 4:55/mile! However after not the best nights sleep, due to a likely drug-fueled party in a neighbouring house that continued on until 7AM, I found myself surrounded by a sea of skinny anxious bodies waiting for the scream of the starting horn.

The first 1Km was crazy! Never before had I ever run so fast whilst being surrounded by so many people! I kept expecting for the field to start to spread out, but it just didn’t. I hit the halfway point in just outside 15 minutes, and by then a large group had just started to get some daylight between the rest of the field. My legs were now starting to pay for my probably over ambitious start, and until the 7K point I lost my concentration a bit. I was starting to lose motivation, with thoughts starting to turn to “just finishing”, however a glance at my watch showed me to still be on pace for a PB. At the same moment a couple of guys started to come pass me, which helped me snap out of my bad patch and allowed me to sit on their tails. Although not physically feeling any better, my head was now back in the race, which was greatly helped as we began to make up ground on the runners ahead of us. The last Km, which contained the only hill of the whole course, was complete agony! Yet I did manage to finish well and my pain was rewarded with a small PB of 30:23. Considering earlier in the week I had completely ruled out racing, I was now extremely happy!

So with Leeds done the attention now turns back to the Liverpool Cross Challenge and Euro trials on the 29th. I was going to keep these last two weeks after Leeds very light, however after doing not a lot the past few days I’m leaning more towards a moderate 70 ish mile week followed by a relaxed week pre-Liverpool.”Touch wood” they’ll be injury free!


Monday- AM Gym, PM 7 miles steady
Tuesday- AM 5 miles easy, PM 3 x 2 miles (10:13, 10:07, 10:09) with 90s recovery + 10x30s hills
Wednesday- AM 6 miles easy, PM 7 miles easy
Thursday- Rest- too tired
Friday- Still very tired and proceeded to pull left hamstring during strides forcing me to walk home
Saturday- 4 miles easy- hamstring not good and ended up walking home
Sunday- Gwent XC- Pulled out after 1km after hamstring went again

46 miles total


Monday- AM 4×4 mins with 3 mins easy recovery on indoor bike, PM 15 mins cross trainer + 20 Gym
Tuesday- AM Physio, PM 30 mins on indoor bike with a few 60s efforts
Wednesday- AM Gym, PM 25 mins on bike, 15 on cross trainer, 10 very easy on treadmill
Thursday- AM 3.5 mile test run, PM 4 miles very easy
Friday- AM 6 miles easy, PM 6 miles steady
Saturday- AM 3.5 miles easy + strides then train to Leeds, PM 2.5 miles very easy + strides
Sunday- Leeds Abbey Dash 10k- 33rd in 30:23

36 miles total

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