Friday, 17 March 2017

An alternative approach for the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon

LA from the Runyon Canyon

On Sunday, I'll be working my way from Downtown LA to Santa Monica, the finish line for the Los Angeles Marathon. I am fortunate to be here with Skechers, who have brought 35 runners from across the world to take part alongside the other 24,000 runners running the Skechers Performance Los Angeles marathon.

My build up to this marathon has been very different to any other marathon I've ever run, let's say the past month has brought a new level to the definition of a running 'taper'. Early in the year, things were progressing well, with a couple of good results at County and Southern Cross, and the Sunday long run was building nicely up to 18-20 miles. I was also a regular down at the Thursday Battersea session, which is probably the toughest session of the week, where I'd worked up to about 65 mins of running long reps slightly above or below marathon pace. I'd banked a number of 90+ mile weeks in January and all was on track for LA. 

Then what happened?
In early February I developed some pain in the outside of my lower leg, which I thought was from overuse of the muscle there. Following an MRI scan to rule out a stress fracture, the physio agreed with my thoughts, and since then the muscle has been needled, massaged and anti-inflammatoried as much as possible  in an effort to get me to the start line.

So what's the impact been on running? 
Significant, in that my total running mileage since 10th February has been incredibly low. However, in its place has been a combination of swimming, cycling and time on the rowing machine in order to keep my aerobic ability in a state capable of completing a marathon, whilst (hopefully) allowing my leg muscle to recover without the stresses of running. Bike rides have been anything from up to 90 miles to 5-20 minute intervals, whilst swimming and rowing has involved a steady 50-60 minute effort.

How am I feeling for Sunday?
I feel in good shape aerobically, the injury in my leg has certainly settled and hopefully it'll behave itself on the day. I have a strategy in my mind to go out comfortably, and perhaps wind things up from halfway, quite different from any other marathon I've run, as typically I'll go out hard and pay for it in the closing stages. Perhaps this might be an eye-opener for how to tackle the marathon on race day! I'm  looking forward to the event, and seeing new parts of a city through a marathon is an experience I've not had since I first ran London back in 2003.

The men's race starts at 13:55 London time and, if you fancy tracking the race, you can follow it here or #GoRunLA

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Southern XC 2017 at Parliament Hill

After the freezing conditions in southern England we've had for the past week, it was very mild on Hampstead Heath today and underfoot was the dryest I've ever known. Following Kona ironman, it's taken a while to recover properly but, after county champs, I felt in good shape to do Southern Cross some justice.

As always, the mad dash up from the Lido was rapid, and I found myself well back in 50th ish place going into the first corner. I realised I needed to work through early on in order not to get boxed in at all. Up ahead, I could already see Rich Goodman a clear distance ahead from a group of Andy Maud, Paul Martelletti and Chris Smith, with a bunch of runners separating them from me.

As the frantic initial pace settled, I was running with Steve Naylor, who I landed up racing pretty much the whole distance with. Underfoot there were a few slippery parts but, on the whole, the course was fast (for Hampstead Heath at least). At the end of the first lap I must've been in about 18th place, but felt good and the Sunday marathon paced runs certainly put me in a good place to look to work through the field.

The second and third laps I seemed to find myself surrounded by Bedford vests, or Cottage runners, and as a result could hear a very excited Phil O'Dell looking on. With only a kilometre to go, I moved in to 9th and pushed for home. Given its downhill all the way from here, so did everyone else, which made a very hard finish to the race. Coming into the last corner, I was still in 9th, but the Greenleaf sprint failed to materialise and I finished in 12th. Still, well within the top 15 I was aiming for and a great race throughout.

Andy Maud took the win from Rich Goodman, and a top result for Chris Smith to finish 3rd.