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The road to Dublin Marathon 2016

The countdown has begun!

This morning marked the beginning of my 23 week training program for the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon, on 30 October 2016. I always give myself plenty of time to build up to a marathon, building in time for unwanted injury etc. There were beautiful conditions as I set off around the Putney Loop by Barn Elms and back to Hammersmith via Putney Bridge and Bishops Park.

Initially I was planning on participating in New York Marathon in November however decided to run something closer to home in October. I’m used to training for an April race day (London and Paris). I wanted to try something different this year and give training in more daylight (sunrise) from May – October rather than running in the dark from October – April.

This year I’ll be making full use of my Polar M400 paired with a personalised Polar Running Program. I hope to keep this blog sporadically updated with training progress. For more regular updates, follow me on Twitter and Instagram, as I regularly snap some beautiful scenery during my morning runs.

Lurking at Lunch

Habits are hard to change. Going to the same place day-in-day-out for lunch becomes tiresome and boring. In making the effort to change a lunchtime habit, I have made myself go explore what Mayfair has to offer.

First thing that springs to mind are the numerous amounts of fine-dining restaurants and cafés in the area. However take a closer look, mainly on the corners of a street or nestled in the middle of larger buildings on a side-street, you will find an array of sandwich shops and non-chain grab n’go shops. In these establishments, you actually get to choose what goes into your sandwich, unlike the chain options such as Crush, EAT and Pret a Manger to name a few.

It’s all too often that we forget that local businesses such as the corner sandwich shop used to be the only places to grab n’go who actually know the area they’re in, unlike the chains employing anybody and everybody, people who I feel, do not care for the area they’re in. Rant over.

One sandwich shop I can recommend in the area is the Mayfair Sandwich Shop, 7 Stafford Street. Friendly, efficient service with lots of choice. Unsurprisingly, they don’t have a web presence, but do they need it, having been based there for years? Perhaps not… though I would argue that they should adapt with the times otherwise only more will be lost.

Happy sandwich eating!

Patrick

The London Marathon

It’s not every day that Tower Bridge in London is shut to traffic so you, and 36,000 others can run across without congestion. On Sunday 26 April 2015 I was lucky enough to be one of those 36,000 runners competing in the London Marathon.

Much like the Paris Marathon I ran in April 2014, training started in the last quarter of 2014 for London 2015, upon receiving the confirmation I had won a ballot place on 1 October 2014. I was delighted to have received a ballot place as many friends and colleagues who have been living in London much longer than my (not even two years then) had been applying for years with no such luck. Training kicked in early October, keeping up my usual early morning training sessions (from my rowing days, the habit of training early morning stuck with me).

Training had its ups and downs but on the whole I loved it. I made the most of the experience by keeping  my MP3 player up to date with my style of music (which ranges from everything to Spandau Ballet to Kings of Leon to Ed Sheeran to ATB). This, mixed in with plenty of swimming and group exercise classes at my gym, helped me to stay focused throughout.

Something new I had during my training this year was the #UKRunChat group on Twitter. I found this helped immensely as a support and motivational channel. I’ve befriended many running followers on Twitter thanks to it too – definitely worthwhile checking out if you’re planning to sign up for a race in the future. Other initiatives such as #Run2WorkDay also helped throughout the season, and a great cause to support.

A video which motivated me throughout my training is below, if you have just over 11 minutes, watch it! It was filmed over a number of months in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London and captures a group of runners pounding the tarmac through the seasons, brazenly challenged with intimate questions as they pace their routes.

The crowds of supporters throughout the 40K of London Marathon were amazing but the final 2K of the route was eclectic. Everyone was cheering like there was no tomorrow which provided me with such an adrenalin rush. I also had a proper tune pumping me to the end, which was Calvin Harris featuring HAIM. Check it out below. All of these elements helped me achieve my time of 3:34:54, beating my Paris time by 23 minutes, a personal best I am very proud to have achieved.

Below are a selection of my favourite running pictures which I snapped on my iPhone during my training for London Marathon:

Not all the training was enjoyable though – some mornings in January and February I was running in the rain, hail and sleet and even snow. Not pleasant but must be endured when living in London!

I managed to grab a few snaps of a new style of running seflie, aptly called a ‘runfie’, most of which included a nice point of interest in the background (excluding my wrecked looking face!)

To summarise, my London Marathon experience was magical and I could only encourage anyone thinking about doing a marathon to go for it – you won’t regret it! (well, your body might for a few days afterwards – but you can get over that)!

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Me with my medal shortly after crossing the finish line

First Nightfall Run

As the evenings are (unfortunately) getting shorter, it leaves less time for me to run during daylight hours – except at the weekends. This evening I took to one of my regular routes just as the sun went down (c 6.30pm) all in prep for The 2015 London Marathon next April.

As the evenings are (unfortunately) getting shorter, it leaves less time for me to run during daylight hours – except at the weekends. This evening I took to one of my regular routes just as the sun went down (c 6.30pm) all in prep for The 2015 London Marathon next April.

I found it quite the novelty, running in the dark. Thankfully I used my headband with a light which I received upon running The Paris Marathon earlier this year. I hadn’t used it since then. It provided so much light and I didn’t feel it on my head at all. I passed a few runners who had no light at all which I think is very dangerous, as some parts of the route are pitch black (mainly on the way from Hammersmith Bridge to Putney Bridge, along the Barnes banks). Probably something that should be put in – lights along the banks, as otherwise it’s not very safe for anyone to be over there.

Here’s a quick snap of what the route looked like in the dark (you’ll excuse the poor image quality!)

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If you’ve not yet tried running in the dark, I’d recommend you give it a go – but be sure to light up, so you can see where you’re going and to be seen by others!

New workout: The Viking Method

I had the ‘pleasure’ of experiencing a fitness class new to me called The Viking Method this morning. The Viking Method consists of unique functional exercises that work your body to the maximum, increasing your growth hormone activation and forcing the body to burn more fat.

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The lady who created this class a number of years ago, Svava Sigbertsdottir, an Icelandic national instructed the class and from the get go you could see her passion for the workout shine through. There were six of us in the class. Within 10 minutes of warming up we were sweating like pigs! The class is an hour long and consists of exercises I had never even knew existed – making the class exciting as well as tough.

We started by simply running to get the body warmed up. Shortly after that we found ourselves crawling and jumping in a burpee type way, followed by sliding along the floor. Squats were a common exercise throughout the class, with varied forms including jumping up on the stepper. The most intriguing exercise and probably the most difficult for me was the ‘plank crawl unders’. You need to pair up with someone, they place themselves in a raised plank position and you have to crawl under them, forward and back. An advanced version of this, sliding, can be seen here. VERY tough!

Other exercises included a challenging burpee / push-up sequence of 6 x 8 x 10 reps followed by 10 x 8 x 6 reps. I guess it sounds nice and easy but believe me, these are not the nicest exercise to do 40 minutes in to the class.

We began our cool down with another exercise new to me called ‘the flower’. Each of us gathered around in a petal shape using our mats. We lay down flat on our backs, raised our legs into the air and did 6 x 10 x sit ups, with each of us counting to ten in our mother tongue – an engaging and fun way to complete an exercise.

Tough and all as the class was, I’ll definitely be doing some more. It’s a class that doesn’t involve a huge amount of equipment other than your body and motivation – which for me hits the spot.

I attended this class at The Peak Health Club & Spa, located just off Sloane Street, London SW1X 9PY. More details on The Viking Method can be found on its website: http://thevikingmethod.com/.

Give it a try!

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London to Brighton Bike Ride

On Sunday 15 June 2014 I cycled 56 miles from London (Clapham Common) to Brighton Pier. Cycling isn’t as big a passion of mine as running, but I enjoyed the ride a lot and it was all in aid of a fantastic cause – the British Heart Foundation.

I set up an online fundraising page (first time) and found it quite difficult to reach my target, which I guess could be put down to the masses of people using such sites to raise money for various causes. If you’re feeling generous however, please feel free to visit my donation page and donate as you wish!

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Confession time – this post has been sitting in my drafts for a number of months now. Now the evenings are slightly darker I find myself getting round to updating the blog, so here’s to a few more fitness related updates in the coming weeks and months, to see out 2014.

An exciting target for me now is the 2015 London Marathon, taking place on Sunday 26 April 2015 which I’m delighted I got a place in and really look forward to achieving a PB, beating my times in the Dubai and Paris Marathons.

Until next time – keep smiling 🙂