|At a Glance Profile
Running for: 6 - 7 years
No. of marathons: 12
Listening to my body when it's telling me to stop.
Most looking forward to: The challenge as a whole, and learning from the experts.
Most dreading: Picking up an injury during training.
Favourite races: Half- marathons and marathons ( the Flora London Marathon in particular)
Did you know? I once had a £100 bet with a work mate, to lose 3 stone in 3 months and
I did it with 1 week to spare, although he never did pay-up!
• My RW profile
Finish Time: Didn't run due to a fractured hip
Nigel's Training Schedule | Nigel's Food Diary Analysis | Nigel's Training Thread | Nigel's Race-Week Nutrition Strategy
Flora London Marathon: Race Day
Nigel says: I won't deny that I was gutted not to run – I had to pull out due to a fractured hip a couple of weeks before, and it looks like I may not be able to run for two or three months now.
It’s been great being part of the team though – a real experience of a lifetime and one that I’ll definitely never forget. If it weren’t for my injury, I’m sure I would have run sub-3:00 – there are plenty of marathons around so I’m thinking about maybe trying again in September.
I’m going to take so much away from the experience. Thanks to Steve, I’ve learnt so much about running in general (not just marathons) and have changed the way I approach my running for good. I’ve also learnt lots from the Lucozade Sport Science team about fuel and hydration.
I've been overwhelmed by everyone’s support and best wishes in the forums too. I feel like I've made some great running friends (some of whom I’ve now met in person) and have really enjoyed sharing our experiences. I’m definitely going to be sticking around and picking everyone’s brains in the future.
Nigel's Video Diary
Weeks 13 - 14
Nigel says: I'm still having problems with my back. The good news is that it's not a stress fracture. The bad news is that no-one knows what it is! It's so frustrating - until I know what the problem is, I can't fix it.
I've been trying all kinds of things - cycling, stretching, numerous acupuncture appointments, even "girlie" half press-ups! I'm not sure whether this is having much effect though and have eased off the bike for a day or two just to see whether it was aggravating my back. Resting seems to be working, and I'm looking forward to trying a few gentle runs over the next few days.
At the moment, my head is still 100% committed to this marathon, but my sub-3:00 goal is slipping out of sight. I really want to do the marathon, and even though it might be too late to grab that PB I still want to run and get round in a decent time.
Steve says: Sadly, Nigel's back injury has meant no running for the last fortnight. He is still optimistic he can do the race but his target would have required some hard training through March and early April. Nigel hasn't run since the Bath Half-Marathon (March 15).
Nigel will get the result of his scan shortly and hopefully, that will tell him exactly what the damage is and whether running again in the short-term is feasible. It will be a big ask for him to think about running 26 miles in two weeks but the experience should put him in good heart for his next marathon, when - back permitting - he can target the sub-3:00 he is most certainly capable of.
Weeks 11 - 12
Nigel says: The fortnight started well with my performance at the Bath Half-Marathon (March 15) - 1:27.00 and mile splits that ranged from 6:27 to 6:41. The start was very congested, but that probably kept my speed in check. I'm so pleased my splits were so even - consistent pacing is new to me but I think I've cracked it. I felt good and could have run a few more miles at that pace.
Unfortunately this did come with a price. A niggle I had in my back has turned nasty, and for the rest of the week I hardly managed to get any running in. I've been trying to stay active though. I've stretched so much I should be about 8ft tall by now, and I've spent hours on the exercise bike too.
I've got an MRI scan booked to find out what's wrong but if I'm not better and running again soon I'll be gutted. If I can't race on April 26, I'd rather run and just enjoy the atmosphere. Being a spectator just isn't the same. I really hope I'll be able to run it in a good time. I've just bought my train tickets - I AM going to London, and I'm determined to stay positive.
Steve says: Two weeks ago Nigel was gaining momentum towards his sub-3:00 ambition, getting more confident with his speed, endurance and overall fitness. He ran a very controlled race at the Bath Half-Marathon, finishing in 1:27 which was bang on target. Since then though he has been plagued by serious back pain and been unable to run.
Nigel remains optimistic about his target but every day he misses makes his target harder to achieve. Typically he has been working hard on the bike to maintain his fitness. However he needs to be back to full health very soon or he will have to re-adjust his targets.
Weeks 9 - 10
Nigel says: Things are going steadily. I’m still holding back when racing, trying to be patient and sticking to the schedule.
My focus now is the Bath Half-Marathon (March 15). Previously, I’d have gone all out for a good time, but this time I’ll be focusing on achieving a consistent pace. At this stage of my training it's more important to use these build-up races to get the pacing right - if I don't manage it in practice, I'm won't get it right during the marathon. I’m planning to hold back in the early stages, then finish stronger and faster than before.
So far, I've seen improvement every week of my training. I'll probably always be a bit impatient, but I definitely feel like I'm going in the right direction.
Steve says: Two weeks ago I said Nigel still had a tendency to try and do too much. The following weekend he ran 25 miles instead of the scheduled 20 miles. He did it for reasons of confidence, but I would never recommend covering such a distance in training. Thankfully he seems to have survived and has continued to make progress since.
His next session was a controlled 18 x 200m session. He showed good speed, and followed this up with an average 9-miler and a very good 11-miler later in the week.
At the Lucozade Sport Flora London Marathon Workshop, Nigel ran an excellent session with good pace, albeit a fair bit faster than he should have done. This shows he still has pacing and control issues even if his speed is improving!
Overall his endurance is still looking good and though there is further room for improvement as regards his speed, he is in a much better position than he was a few weeks ago. A sub-3:00 marathon looks a better possibility every week.
Weeks 7 - 8
Nigel says: After my injury, I'd been really looking forward to racing again - I didn't know if I'd be up to my target paces yet but was determined to give it a good go.
It wasn't easy - my tactics now are completely different to how I've raced in the past. Starting slow is a whole new experience for me, and I found it very hard to see people pass me who I know I can beat! 67 minutes over 10 miles wasn't my best time, but I always planned to practice pacing and not just run flat out.
On reflection, this week has been the hardest to date. My training is gathering pace but I'm feeling strong and mentally ready. I'm looking forward to picking up my speed and though I know there's still plenty of room for improvement, I feel that I've got a lot more to give.
I've now been training for eight weeks and can feel myself improving all the time. I am being very patient, which is something I would normally find very hard - I just hope I peak at the right time.
Steve says: Nigel has made tremendous progress in recent weeks. His endurance is looking good but that's always been his great strength. His speedwork has also been going well and he is now controlling his pace much better, getting stronger during the session rather than fading. Though his racing speed isn't quite there yet, his efforts over 10K and 10 mile are encouraging and a step in the right direction.
Nigel still has a tendency to try and do too much which shows his committment but to run a sub-3:00 marathon. However, it is important to be smart and controlled as well as committed - he needs to save the fast hard running for the right days and make sure he gets sufficient recovery on the other days.
Overall, it's looking more encouraging week by week for Nigel. He's probably only in 3:05 shape right now but he's getting a good minute fitter every week, and there's plenty of time to hone his speed to match his endurance.
Weeks 4 - 6
Nigel says: The last few months have been tough, but I feel like I'm really making progress now. For once, I'm actually listening to good advice and to my body. That said, I am a pretty impatient person, and now I've started to get back to training I can't wait to get back to my pre-injury speed.
I'm also back in racing mode now, with several fixtures planned for the next few months. Going off too fast is still an issue for me - I naturally have a fast starting pace, and often find that I simply can't hold back. I know this is the wrong way to run a marathon, so I'm working hard to keep my speed under control.
Overall I'm very pleased - I've seen big improvements over the past four weeks. The variety of sessions in my schedule is also making my training much more interesting. If getting the time I want on race day comes down to hard work, commitment and dedication, hopefully I shouldn't have any problems.
Steve says: Nigel still has some catching up to do. His strength is his endurance, but having missed training due to injury prior to starting his schedule, Nigel is down on where he has been on past years and initially lacked a little confidence. However, he has put in some good long runs, and his strength and confidence are coming back.
Now, Nigel should be working more on his speed, as that will be key. While he has been doing his speed sessions, the pace is certainly not there yet. But, if he can control his natural inclination to do extra miles to build endurance, rely instead on his natural stamina, and focus on getting faster, then that elusive sub-3:00 will be within his grasp.
Weeks 1 - 3
Nigel says: Three weeks in, and things are slowly starting to come together. I’m not 100% yet, but the osteopath is sorting me out and I can feel the improvement week by week. My problem is holding myself back – I never want to stop running, and I can’t resist a good race. Yet I do know that this could be my undoing.
In previous years, I’ve done lots of miles and very little speedwork, but this time, my schedule is the other way around. I’ll give this approach everything I’ve got, and I’m looking forward to reaping the results.
I’ve given up booze for the duration of my training – I’m hoping this will stop me overindulging, eating and drinking too much and undoing all my hard work.
Steve says: Nigel’s making up for lost time after being injured, so isn't where he wanted to be right now. However, his fitness is increasing, and so far the sessions have been a success. Nigel doesn’t feel ready to race, but hopefully as his fitness and confidence increase he’ll get back into racing.
It’s still early days, and Nigel has had to work on getting his endurance back. The next step is to work on his speed – he needs to be faster than he’s ever been. He’ll have to work hard, stay injury-free, and stay in control.
If he does this, then a sub-3:00 marathon remains a real possibility.
Nigel says: I started running about seven years ago after looking through holiday photos. I was 15st and getting bigger - seeing myself in those photos was the boost I needed to do something about my weight. Since then, I’ve lost more than five stone, and I’m fitter than I’ve ever been.
I get such a buzz from running. Mentally, I’m very tough – I can run and run until I physically can’t go any further. I train six or seven times a week – occasionally clocking up more than 100 miles - and mostly, I’m running on my own.
I race frequently as it helps keep me motivated, and I sometimes train with my local club, Port Talbot Harriers. I’ve run 12 marathons with a PB of 3:02. Yet although I seem to be training harder and harder, I just can’t seem to break three hours. My times have been slowing and I’ve been picking up injuries too.
I’m beginning to think that perhaps I’m over-training. I do find it hard to hold back as I’m very, very competitive. Usually, if someone tells me to run 10 miles, I’ll run 15 instead.
That said, I’m 110% committed to doing exactly what Steve tells me I need to do to achieve my goal, and am absolutely over the moon to have been chosen for the team.
Steve says: Having run three marathons in 3:04 or faster, Nigel clearly has the capacity to break three hours. His previous times also prove that he is capable of managing the training load, is used to training consistently and has good endurance.
However, he does need to improve his basic speed. His 10K and half-marathon times are simply not fast enough. A two minute improvement over the half-marathon distance, together with sufficient endurance work, could see a five minute improvement in his marathon time.
Nigel is enthusiastic and willing to train as much as he needs, but if anything, has overtrained in the past. He still needs to do the hard work but must ensure he has more easy days and rest in his schedule.
He also needs to work on his pace judgement. I observed Nigel on a training session, and he set off far too quickly. Pace judgement is vital for a good marathon. The other problem is injury. In recent months he has missed lots of training due to a groin injury and it keeps recurring after he returns from a rest.