Tag Archives: marathon training



A recent training session for the day was 6 x 1/2 mile hill repeats at 6% incline with 4 – 5 minute jog recoveries and a warm down run. It’s a hard workout where you are pushing the efforts on the uphills.

Peaks Views 1 - IMG_2331

Some proper hills in the Peak District!

But, I couldn’t quite find a decent enough hill where I was at the time. That didn’t mean I scratched the work out, I just substituted it to get the same training effect. So what did I do?

  • 1 mile warm up
  • 10 x 500m hill repeats with fast downhills to work the quads
  • 8 mile undulating with last mile at recovery pace

Now, it’s not easy knowing you are going to have to do 10 x 500m hill repeats, so I set out to do four. Then when I got there I added another two and then it was easy I just said to myself lets get to ten.  The treat at the end was to have a really good eight mile run after you’ve warmed up doing a few hill repeats. Fourteen miles in total. Not bad for a Monday night.

And the eight miles seemed easy compared to the hill repeats!  Train hard, train smart.







Team RUN-FAST – out for a training run in London – super fast half marathon and marathon runners!

Unbelievably we are already six weeks into 2015. That leaves about two and half months or ten weeks, or to really focus the mind, seventy training days left, not including any taper time, to nail that spring marathon. Where on earth did the time go I hear you say?

If you haven’t quite got your training in order yet, it’s time to address that and get in some consistent weeks of training over the next eight weeks. That leaves you two weeks of taper before your spring marathon.

I have found out this year, since I got myself a coach, that more focus on quality over quantity and making those training sessions count produces results. So where I would have run every day and done a 5, 6 or 7 mile session at whatever pace I considered appropriate, now my training is more likely to be a 10 mile progression run or an 8 mile hill session and there are guilt free recovery days included,. The most important thing I have really benefited from by having a coach is the level of accountability it brings to your training (and really to yourself). Whilst I was disciplined in running almost every day it brings a deeper level of commitment knowing that you will have to at sometime tell your coach what you have been up to or not for that matter! And whilst they are not your mother, father or your schoolteacher it’s going to be a bit lame just saying ‘I didn’t feel like it on that day’.

A good coach will guide you through the appropriate training plan, mentor you and assist you through the ups and downs (mainly the downs!) for when it doesn’t go to plan. Remember, the plan is the ideal world but its not reality and obviously things happen in our lives that impact the training that you would like to do, like you get ill, you have family or work commitments that mean you have to reschedule or drop training sessions, or you are just plain over tired and need a rest. When it doesn’t go to plan it can all feel overwhelming, thinking that you have failed and that your objective race will not be achievable and that you must catch up those miles (btw – big mistake!) but a good coach will guide you through that with skill and advise you on what options you have and guide you with the best course of action. It may simply be that you carry on with your training plan or its altered in some way to take into account the dropped training sessions.

I guess the point is that if you are following a marathon plan and you don’t have a coach and you suddenly find yourself not keeping up with what is on the schedule its not a calamity. But, it’s a great idea to get advice and not let it worry you. Get on the runners forums, if you are a member of a running club talk to others with experience for their advice or just get yourself a coach, its never too late!

All images are copyright – Ian Campbell – Photography



Its mid January and we are well into marathon training season. Have you noticed something recently? When I get on a train in the morning I am more likely to be standing next to a lycra clad runner than a booted and suited city worker. When I am running along the banks of the River Thames I am more than likely not going to be the only runner, in fact some mornings its like the start of a race as those aforementioned lycra clad runners bundle themselves through the ticket barriers and ready their GPS watches to start running and doing their early morning run commute.

Run commuting is an easy way to fit in some extra mileage into your program and not waste that commuting time. There are a number of interesting ways to fit that run into your daily commute, are you going to…..

  • Run to the station
  • Run from the station
  • Run instead of getting the train or bus
  • Run to a station further up the line
  • Get off earlier than your destination and run

Run commuting takes a little bit of preparation and organisation, first of all, you need to plan your actual journey, will you have to purchase a different ticket, what route will you choose for your run section, what pack will you take and how much do you need to carry, what about shower facilities. Can you leave stuff at work or at a gym to ease the weight of the pack.

Big Ben

Shot of the Houses of Parliament taken at 0630

It can seem a little bit daunting and perhaps just not worth the effort, but from someone who has been doing it for a number of years I can tell you its fun, rewarding and you get to see some extraordinary things and it makes you walk tall for the rest of the day knowing you’ve put in a decent training session. I remember walking into the office one morning and someone asked me if I had been for a run. Of course I said yes. Usually that was end of the conversation, but it just so happened that morning I was asked where from so I said from home. Oh do you live nearby? …. yes, about 14 miles away… it’s a nice cycle path in for about 9 miles or so and then on roads. Wow, you ran 14 miles? Ermm… actually not today I decided to add on an extra loop to make it up to 20. Silence!!!

On the practical side you need to make sure that your run commute is a planned piece of running in the same way that you break up your weekly training sessions. So, are you on a recovery day, or is it a tempo session, fartlek run etc. Obviously, the more pack weight your carrying determines to some extent what relative speed you can run at, so if you regularly run your tempo session at 8 min mile pace and you are carrying a pack of 6 to 8kg then its going to impact your times. Depending on what you are training for a pack can help. Lets say your goal race is hilly and mountainous and your training routes are relatively flat. Carrying a pack will help in your training for that event.

Some practical tips :

  • Choose a small running pack. More space means more temptation to carry more stuff that will ultimately slow you down.
  • Pack your bag the night before. Its so, so easy to not do your run the next morning if you haven’t packed the kit the night before. There is also a good chance that your going to forget something as well.  Don’t get persuaded by the weather or just through the hustle and bustle of the morning to avoid the chance to run, pack the night before so you can get straight out.
  • Choose and plan your route and intended pace. Is it going to fit in with your days training plan, if not, can you adapt?
  • Check the weather forecast the night before.  Will you have the right kit for tomorrow? is it going to be cold or raining, do you need that extra layer, gloves or rain jacket?
  • Be careful of other runners! So often I have been deviated from my intended run pace by another runner who passes by and then I get dragged into a race. It’s fun at the time of course, but if it’s not a planned fast session it’s eating into your recovery. Funny, but on these occasions you never run slower, it’s always faster!
  • Try, try and try to minimize the amount you are carrying. Can you leave some stuff in the office or at a locker in your gym. Things that are heavy and can be typically left in an office or left out completely, Shoes, Suit Jacket, Coat, Laptop, Towel, Shower Gel & Deodorant.
  • Keep it all dry. Make sure you keep clothes and stuff you want dry wrapped up in your pack. Most packs are not really waterproof enough to survive a downpour. Plastic shopping bags are a cheap alternative to the good dry bags you can buy at a decent outdoor shop.
  • Access to cash, credit cards etc. Have train tickets, credit cards and some cash easily available either in the waist belt pocket that is on your pack or get one of those light waist belts. Much easier than fumbling to get at these items at the station ticket barrier with hordes of people behind you muttering away.

Above all – have fun with the run commute – it’s so rewarding to know you have done your training session before the days work starts.


All images copyright – Ian Campbell – Photography


Active Patch 4U – is it a worthwhile investment and does it work?   At a time of year when you are considering and entering races to do for the coming season and your probably well into base training whether that be running or a cross training activity, some of us are injured. Now its sort of okay over the Christmas and New Year period as other things tend to take over, but when your itching to get back into training and your injured it plays on your mind, all those lost days and how many weeks it will take to get back to some semblance of fitness. That’s when you start to ramp up your injury physiotherapy, rehabilitation exercises and indeed anything else that will get you back as quick as possible.  Well how about Active Patch 4U?

Active Patch 4U is a French based company created by founders Arnaud Tortel and Jacques Casper from an original idea by Casper and a collaboration between the two in 2009 that leads to 4 years of further research before the patch is put into production and branded Active Patch 4U.

Tortel is a physiotherapist and polar explorer who has knowledge of Chinese acupuncture. Casper who had developed the membrane idea in 2008 fine tunes the membrane size and concentration to achieve optimal results to the eventual patch you see now.


Out of the box – Key Statistics

The patches can be ordered in boxes of 8, 16, 24, 40 or 100
They come in a number of colours, flesh, turquoise, plum or fuchsia.
Patch Size – 9.8 cm x 5 cm


Depending on quantity ordered the patches are approx Eur 2 each.

Latest prices – Pack of 8 – Eur 19.90, pack of 16 – Eur 35.90, pack of 24 – Eur 49.90, pack of 40 – Eur 79.90 and pack of 100 – Eur 179.90

Active Patch 4U versus a AA battery


These patches are based on an acupuncture principal and so you usually need between three and four patches for any treatment. The Active Patch 4U website has an excellent self help zone for guidance in how to use and apply the patches. They are primarily for joint and muscle problems.

Here is list of typical applications.

Ankle, Knee, Hip, Hands, Elbow, Shoulder, Lumber Region, Cervical Region and Dorsal Region.

The Active Patch 4U team have enlisted a series of well known trail and ultra running athletes to lead the way in testing the patches. Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg, Ricky Lightfoot, Tim Olson, Anton Krupicka, Anna Frost, Julien Chorier, Stevie Kremer and Francois d’Haene to name but a few. What would be really interesting is to see if mainstream athletics such as track and field would start to use the patches and endorse them?

Field Test

Treatments – I have used the patches on several occasions for the following issues.

  • Discomfort linked to the stability of the ankle
  • Discomfort in the calf
  • Discomfort on the top of the foot and toes
  • Discomfort in the hamstrings

Application of the patches was followed as per the website diagrams. I am a great believer that health is all in the mind, so a sort of placebo effect is important. If you invested several pounds in the patches you have to believe in their success. I would also advocate that the patches are used as part of a holistic approach to healing. You cannot just rely on sticking a few patches on and think that in a day or two it will go away. Seek and use other healing processes whether that is stretching, physiotherapy or just even rest.

In all my cases, the injury was resolved within a few days. What did I like about these patches? They are easy to carry around with you if you are traveling, they last for at least five days quite well even after being soaked in showers everyday and that does not detract from their stickiness.

There is a whole other facet to these patches in their use as preventive treatment. To date, I have not done this but as I have had recurrent ankle injuries I am going to embark on some preventative measures with the patches and see the outcome. The trouble with this is that there are so many variables that one could not for sure really attribute it to just the patches. But surely that is what it is about? , these patches are part of an armoury you can use to prevent, treat and have a successful running career and isn’t that what everyone is seeking!!

Latest update : December 2014 – With a another, this time left leg, hamstring issue and some physiotherapy and rehabilitation exercises done without total success I am now embarking on some patch treatment. I believe in these little patches so will be aiming to get back to training in very early January 2015.

All images are copyright Ian Campbell – Photography