The Virgin London Marathon: The Story.

The London Marathon

Now that the dust has settled and that the race has been run, I have had time to get my head together to write up my final London Marathon blog. I have to say that it has been one amazing journey to experience over 8 months. I tore my calf one week before the Bournemouth Triathlon and had to recover from this injury, then get myself in shape to train for the London Marathon. I suffered from extreme fatigue during the Hampton Court Half Marathon and had to recover from this just to make the London Marathon start line, albeit not 100% fit but fit enough to run the race.

The weekend began with a trip to the London Excel Centre on Friday to collect my race number and to meet up with the deafPLUS representatives. It was a good afternoon and it was good to meet and people who offered me a place in the London Marathon. It was an impressive and well organised set up with lots to do and see. Here’s a few photos:

4a799770-0253-474b-ad31-4be9c8adcf79-collageThe Saturday morning was spent with old school friends I hadn’t seen since I left school some 25 odd years ago. It was good to be able to visit them and we all arranged to meet at their local park run which gave me the opportunity to do one final tempo run before the big day and to acclimatise to the warmer weather on offer. The rest of the time was with my wife’s family and just chilling out and not doing very much other than eat too much!


Sunday was race day. It was a bit of an early start following a bad night’s sleep but that didn’t really put me off and I was wide awake and pumped full of adrenaline. I was a little bit nervous and keen to get this done and over with. The weather forecast was for a very warm day. It was far from ideal running weather and all my training had been done in much cooler weather! I knew a good time would be out of the question and that I’d have to pace myself to get across the finish line.

The race itself had the full support of the people lining the streets cheering us on but it was hard to get a good pace going with over 40,000 runners doing this at the same time. Although I was in the second wave from the front, it still took five minutes to get over the start line as there were so many runners. The first 18 miles went really well. Not an ideal pace but it was good enough for me to keep up with the 3:30 pacer for the distance.

However, after 18 miles I started to feel the effects of heatstroke and already had seen a fair few people collapsing from its effects and being pulled out. It meant dropping off the pace to a much slower one if I were to make the finish line. The change in tactics worked as I was able to recover from its effects but wasn’t able to pick up the pace after that. The sun was so intense and there was hardly any wind at all to cool me down. I did the best I could keeping cool running through showers that were dotted along the route as well as pouring bottles of water over my head / neck. I managed to pick up the pace again one kilometre from the finish line and was very glad to finish in 3:51:21. It was a pleasing result having just run the hottest London Marathon on record!


I would like to thank those who have followed me on this journey, in particular Ant Gritton for being a fantastic and understanding coach and working me way too hard! Lindsey Newbold for keeping my body together with her massages and Hugo Carvalheiro, my physio for fixing me up as and when and making sure I made the marathon start line plus the weekly ticking offs…….! I’d be in big trouble if I didn’t remember to thank my wife Mary and my sons, David and Jacob for putting up with my complaining, causing meal management issues and occasional changes of plans.

Thanks also to so many friends of mine for your support and encouragement and the occasional wind ups that kept me going and on track. Special thanks to my Park Running buddies for grinning and bearing my intolerable antics, marathon ramblings and whatever else was thrown into the mix.

Most of all……. a MASSIVE thank you to all of those to donated to deafPLUS whom I was running for on this occasion. Thanks also to Ashley to Wessex Pictures for offering to sponsor me for this race. At the time of this blog being written, between all of us we managed to raise £2,154.00



The Countdown Begins

One week to go and the final “long” run was completed today:


Now to chill out a bit this week but in the meantime, look out for me in this kit:


And my number is 53224 which means I’ll be starting from the Red Area and can be tracked using the following app:



The Taper Period Begins

Last Sunday I completed my final long run of 20 miles. This took me from home to Lyndhurst and back again. It was good to get that first 20 miler under my belt for 2018. The weather was perfect, calm, still and a little bit of greyness in the sky meaning perfect running conditions. That meant I really enjoyed this one and am starting to get a taste for those longer runs. It went a lot better than I thought it would be but nonetheless, it is good completed it. Here’s a couple of photos from the run:


Now that this longest of the training plan run is out of the way, I can now focus on tapering. For those who don’t know what tapering is, it is basically decreasing the amount of training / exercise before a competition or race. It is essential for best performance and for a marathon, the taper period is usually 3 weeks.

Basically the amount of miles I put in generates fatigue so by reducing the intensity and the volume it gives my body the chance to recover from the hard work by restocking depleted glycogen supplies and repairing tissue damage. Much as I enjoy putting in the hard work set by my coach, I also enjoy the taper period as I feel there is a less pressure on my body and I can chill out a bit too!

With the London Marathon now two weeks away, I’m looking forward to toeing that start line and just getting out there and enjoying the experience. I’m not going to worry about what time  I will finish it in but as a runner, there is always an objective at the beginning of training as to what time you’d like to achieve on the day. My last two marathons were run in 3:36 so if I match or beat that then I’d consider that a bonus. Ultimately, it is getting over the finish line and raising the funds for deafPLUS. Don’t forget to sponsor us at:

Or text IANG91 (£amount) to 70070.


Snow! Train or not to Train……?

As I sit down to write up my next blog, it has started snowing outside and it reminded me of the time when Beast of the East came to visit us a couple of weeks ago….! It was the first time we’d seen snow here in Southampton for a few years. We’re quite accustomed to the warmer southern climate so getting snow in March was a pretty chilly start to spring. One of the questions I was asked if I continued my training even if it snowed…..

The answer to that question is yes! I train in all weathers come rain or shine or snow! It is one of my favourite environments to run in. I learned that in my early teens when, as a punishment I had to do a cross country run in the snow. I loved it then and had to work hard not to smile at the teacher after that. The next day, I went out and did it all over again! So, yes, I did pop out for a run around Southampton Common and really enjoyed it! Here’s few scenic snaps:


Training in an environment where snow has fallen and where there is a risk of ice and slipping over requires a change of kit. For example, I switch from road shoes to trail shoes which gives me an excellent grip on icy paths. Wearing the right kit is also another factor as well as being prepared for any eventuality is equally important too. I find it a hard environment to resist running in because of the natural beauty that is waiting to be seen.

In my last blog I mentioned suffering from an excess amount of fatigue in my legs. Coach Ant had this to say about my training plan:

“We’re in that crucial 6 week countdown and it is not uncommon for runners in this period of training to be feeling the effects of weeks, perhaps months of heavy training in their legs. Where many runners will now start to push on, often what needs to happen is a slight step back and focus on recovery. With  Ian’s recent quadriceps tightness, this is exactly what we will be doing. There are two key long runs to come in the next few weeks and it’s crucial that he is ready for these, so in the meantime, it’ a case of ticking over, and getting that body ready for race day!”

We have since adapted the training plan and brought in a physio to ensure that my body recovers and is in great shape for 22nd April. Happily, both the coach and physio are pleased with how well my body is responding to the changes that have been made to the training plan.


The Long Run

I have just sat down after completing a 17 mile training run that took me out of Southampton and into the New Forest. The weather hasn’t always been kind to me especially as the last two long runs have involved bitter cold winds as well as having to make the distances set by coach Ant. I have however, enjoyed the challenges (mostly!) they have brought as running long distances was never really my forte! Needless say, a challenge is a challenge!

Since my race at the Romsey 5 a couple of week ago, there has been a change in the training plan. The plan has now moved forward and the sessions have been amended in a way that builds my endurance. The plan now consists of 5 runs per week and 2 bike sessions as opposed to 4 runs per week and 3 bike sessions at the start. We’re also focusing on the longer tempo efforts (comfortable but hard runs) and the long runs have now being increased beyond half marathon. Here’s this week’s long run:

img_0744Long distance running isn’t only about preparing the body to be physically fit for the challenge that lies ahead, it is also about training your mindset to cope with the distance you’re going to run. It is both a physical and mental challenge. The mental side of things is just as important as the physical side as it can make a difference in completing the challenge and giving up! The long runs not only prepare the body for endurance but trains the mindset too as something you need to overcome those negative thoughts of wanting to quit!

A few weeks ago Wessex Pictures and DeafPLUS came together in a meeting at Wessex Pictures in Lymington. We discussed ways to fund raise and hope you will join us in helping us to raise funds for DeafPLUS. We are targeting a total of £3,000 with Wessex Pictures starting the ball rolling with a very generous £500! Thank you!

We have left sponsorship forms out on the counters of all our branches with the option to text your donation at: IANG91 (£Amount) to 70070.

If you would like to follow me on my journey of marathon preparation, don’t forget to tune in every so often and look me up to see where I’m at.


The VLM Plan Takes Shape!

I have just completed week 6 on my marathon training which took me to a total of 39 miles of running in a single week.

My marathon training plan has now settled into a manageable routine with the following schedule that has been set by Coach Ant. It is however; open to tweaks here and there depending on how I am progressing. But for now, in the words of my coach, I’m “flying”!

The weekly routine is now:

Monday is a rest day. It comes after the Sunday long run, usually either not doing very much or a quick half an hour on the bike to loosen the legs plus a stretch session or a massage by my masseur – whichever is needed / booked in.

Tuesdays are Run Camp nights so plenty of strength and conditioning exercises for Coach Ant to put the group through as well as sprints and interval training. Often includes a base two mile run to the Sports Centre and back again for good measure!

Wednesday is a bike interval night – a cross training session of around an hour that continues to challenge my cardiovascular session without having to run more miles on the run and risk injury.

Thursday is a run night which currently involves fast mile repeats that prepare my body for enduring the marathon distance. This one can be pretty hard work especially in the evening after work!

Friday is a base ride night – usually in the lighter evenings involves a 60-90 minute ride home from Sway but as we’re in the winter, it’s usually a 45-60 minute base ride locally.

Saturday is marathon pace training including Park Run which I’m involved with. We have three BSL interpreters at the Southampton Common Park Run and several other deaf runners.

Sunday is the most important day – the long run. That can be anything from 10 miles up to whichever distance my coach sees fit, depending on my progress!

Well, that’s the schedule at the moment. There is talk of dropping one of the bike rides in favour for a fifth run as the training gets slowly ramped up the closer we get to the event date. There are also several races I will be doing as part of my preparation starting with the local Romsey 5 mile which takes place at the Broadlands Estate in Romsey.

Perhaps some of you might wonder did this marathon training continue over the Christmas period? Indeed it did – I was given a less demanding schedule for the period but still continued to run and ride. I completed half a marathon on the morning of Christmas Eve and the training did indeed continue even on Christmas and Boxing Day! During that time, I achieved several milestones in terms of running.

First up was my 50th Park Run that took place on the 30th December at Southampton Common. It coincided with my 17th wedding anniversary. Here are a couple of pictures of friends and family on the day:


The Virgin London Marathon: Preparation Begins!

I was asked to run in the London Marathon a few months ago by deafPLUS as they’d heard that I’d been interested in doing another marathon. Once offered I wasn’t going to turn this opportunity down as it is one marathon that was on my bucket list! Although I’m more of a middle-distance runner than a marathoner, I’m always up for a challenge!

I began my marathon training on 27th November with my running coach, Ant Gritton, taking charge of my marathon training plan. Ant has a deaf brother himself so he was a good coach to have as it did away with the communication issues I might have faced. I’d already had him as a coach for a few months at the beginning of 2017 and from the input I got from other athletes, I knew I’d be in good hands in terms of getting the training done to meet this latest challenge.

Here’s a picture of us on the first night of my marathon training:

The marathon training started with a strength and mobility session over at the Southampton Sports Centre track. It was only 3°C that evening so a bit of a nippy start. As runners, we try and train in all weathers as you never know what the weather is going to be like on the day. We soon warmed as soon as we got going anyway apart from a few cold fingers and a cold nose. My training plan kicked of with four runs a week and two rides. Thankfully I get a day off one a week. Here’s a quick snap of my plan:

Training for a marathon isn’t all about running round in endless circles building up the mileage week in week out. It often includes specific running activities that include core work, interval training, speedwork, mile repeats and sprints. The main session will be the Sunday long run. Here’s a couple of action pictures of me doing backward lunges with a kettlebell (core and balance work) and doing progressive intervals with a fellow runner that just got faster.