Lucozade Sport Super Six: Rob (sub-4:00)

Follow the progress of Rob, our sub-4:00 hopeful, as he receives expert advice from mentor Steve Smythe

Posted: 19 December 2008

At a Glance Profile

Nickname: fat face
Age: 45
Running for: 25 years
No. of marathons: 6

5K: 21:31
10K: 45:55
Half-Marathon 1:45:04
Marathon 4:14:27

Strengths: When I put my mind to a task, I'll give it 100 per cent.

Cake and chocolate.

Most looking forward to: Having a 3 as the first number of my marathon finish time.

Most dreading: April 27 2009.

Favourite races: Helsby (Four Villages) Half-Marathon

Did you know? I've been running for 25 years and I've still got all my own toenails.

• My RW profile

Goal: sub-4:00
Current PB: 4:14:27

Rob's Training Schedule | Rob's Food Diary Analysis | Rob's Training Thread | Rob's Race-Week Nutrition Strategy

Weeks 13 - 14

Rob says: I started this fortnight with a dodgy ankle, but after resting up, I tested it tentatively on a long run. I really didn't want to miss a long run so close to race day, and my legs felt raring to go. Well, I sped past my opt-out halfway around the route, and even did the second half of the session much faster than the first! It's a huge relief - not only did my ankle feel fine, but I felt like I could have run a lot further.

I followed that up with a my best ever long run, and after a couple of well-deserved rest days I feel like a coiled spring - pumped up and ready to go. It's all systems go for April 26 now.

Steve says: Rob's had another pretty much perfect fortnight, including some excellent speedwork (800m and mile reps) and what Rob described as his best long run ever.

Apart from an ankle ache, Rob is in the shape of his life, and would have to do something drastically wrong between now and race day not to smash his PB.

At any other distance, you could guarantee that Rob will have a great run. However, marathons are not like shorter distances - months of hard work can go to waste with a bit of bad luck or pacing. Rob is determined not to be complacent or aim too high but a sub-4:00 time looks a sure bet.

Rob's Video Diary

Weeks 11 - 12

Rob says: The Fleet Half-Marathon (March 15) was my biggest test yet, but I did it in 1:41:31 - a PB by three and a half minutes and a replacement for my oldest PB. Pleased? You bet! I even managed to start slow and maintain my pace throughout, which is fantastic. I'm sure I could have gone faster, but I just didn't want to risk blowing up.

All the race-time predictors come up with crazy marathon targets based on my performance, but whatever they say, sub-4:00 is still my aim. In previous marathons, my speed has dropped off significantly as the race distance increases. I'm being cautious, even though I've trained a lot harder this year. There's still a lot of running left before I can be confident of a sub-4:00.

April 26 is getting close, and I've started to gather things together ready for the big day. I've bought new socks, and I've even got a set of lucky safety pins. I've used the same ones at my last two races and PB-ed both times!

Steve says: Rob has continued to make great progress. His performance at the Fleet Half-Marathon couldn't have gone much better - he smashed his personal best in a time that even suggests a 3:45 marathon is more likely than sub-4:00. Rob even felt he could have gone faster.

However, Rob has flattered to deceive in previous marathons after a good half-marathon performance so knows even a great result like that is less than half the story. He still needs to build up his endurance - he had a very encouraging long run last week and he has also clocked up some great speedwork too.

The only cloud on the horizon is that he has suffered an ankle pain, which he needs to keep under control. Overall though, another highly encouraging two weeks and Rob remains well on course for his target as he revels in being fitter than ever.

Weeks 9 - 10

Rob says: I PB-ed in my latest race - a five-miler last weekend. But although I'm chuffed with the result, I’m also annoyed by my lack of pacing. You’d think that after more than 25 years of running I’d have learnt to pace myself, but it seems not!

I’ve been under the weather recently – enough to have to miss runs, and my 17-mile run was a disaster. I'd run the route so many times before but it had never felt so tough. Strange how you can go from a great run to an awful one within a matter of days.

On a more positive note, I only ever used to run every other day - now I'm able to run four days in succession. If someone had told me that six months ago, I'd never have believed them!

Steve says: The major test so far for Rob comes this weekend when he runs the Fleet Half-Marathon (March 15).

He started the fortnight in style with a 20-second PB (35:53) in the London Heathside 5 which showed his speed is excellent. In fact, his time equates to a 3:27 marathon which shows how far his speed is ahead of his endurance.

He followed the race with a good speed session of 200m reps but there are always a few downs after the ups. Rob wasn't well, missed his Wednesday run and then struggled on his long run on the Friday. This wasn't really surprising - not only was he still under the weather but he struggled with hydration too.

Rob showed good control at the Lucozade Sport Flora London Marathon Workshop (or perhaps it was just fatigue) and resisted the temptation to run too fast. He then put in a good speed session early this week, managing to run each 1.5 mile rep faster than the last.

Rob still needs to work hard at his endurance, but overall his training is well on course.

Weeks 7 - 8

Rob says: My back is a long-standing problem - it can "go" for no reason and last week it did just that. After some pretty pathetic attempts to get up off the floor, I realised running would be out for a few days.

Once I got back into training, I did my last ever long run before work. 13 miles is officially my limit for how far I can run first thing and then function effectively at work! From now on, I shall be doing my long runs midweek.

I managed a great hillwork session too. I picked the worst hill in our area but to be honest - dare I say it - I didn't find it too hard. I don't know how much I got out of the session - for each effort my HR was only around 130-135. That would suggest there's plenty more in the tank - I just need Steve to coax it out of me!

It's strange how you can run well one day and badly on another, even if you don't really do anything differently. After my hill session, I went for an easy four miles and found it really hard work. The last couple of weeks have been odd - a recurring injury, some great runs, and then a surprisingly bad one to finish off the fortnight.

Steve says: Rob is still sailing through his training in style. His speed is excellent and he seems to reach the target paces in training without undue strain. If forced to make a criticism, it would be his inability to hold himself back sometimes although recently, he has been far more restrained.

The other area Rob needs to work on is his overall endurance. His half-marathon PB is 1:45, which would imply he could have achieved a sub-4:00 marathon a long time ago. However, Rob's ability to maintain his pace past 20 miles is what has held him back in the past. This year he is determined to put that right and build up the stamina to match his pace.

Over the next few weeks, Rob has some races to test his pacing and speed and give him confidence for the hard training ahead. His sub-4:00 still looks sure!

Weeks 4 - 6

Rob says: The last few weeks kicked off with a run of 11 soggy, undulating miles, which resulted in the worst jogger's nipple I've ever had. I even had to go straight to work afterwards! But, painful experience aside, I’m going to keep doing my sessions before work. I've had enough of running in the evenings – it's just too tiring!

My training for this marathon has been vastly different to the way I’ve done things before. For starters, for the first time in my life I'm actually following a schedule! For my last couple of marathons I ran two or three times a week, averaging 20 - 25 miles. Certainly not ideal marathon training – but what I did learn was how far I can push myself.

I’m still having issues with going too fast in training – at the track session I was keen to impress and ended up going way too fast. That’s something to focus on over the next few weeks.

Steve says: Rob is still well on course for a major revision in his target time. He has carried out all the significant sessions comfortably, and while he is doing nearly all his runs quicker than the schedule recommends, it's clear this is his natural pace and suggests he is a much better runner than his PB implies!

He ran the Watford Half-Marathon at the beginning on February and showed good control, avoiding the temptation to race at this early stage. He ran bang-on target pace and evenly throughout to clock a time of 1:53. The huge snowfall later that day slightly hampered his training the following week but the weather may have been a blessing in disguise - it allowed him to hold back for once.

There's a long way still to go but I do believe Rob couldn't wish to be in a stronger position than he is now.

Weeks 1 - 3

Rob says: I do like my food (and beer!) but I’m starting from a really strong position – I’m at my lightest for decades, and running as well as I ever have.

Before the 'official' schedule started, I worked on upping my mileage. I’ve never done five sessions a week before, but hopefully I can fit them in by running to and from work. Unfortunately, though, my job involves spending up to 10 hours on my feet, so 'rest' days sometimes don’t feel restful at all!

My main problem has been slowing down – my feet feel heavier, and it feels like harder work, but I know I have to make an effort otherwise I could injure myself or have trouble on longer runs later in the schedule.

Steve says: So far Rob has sailed through his first few weeks and is making it look very easy. He's done all the runs, and if he has a problem, it's in holding back a little on the slower parts of the runs.

I don't see his pacing at this early stage as too much of a problem - it seems he finds it hard to run slower than nine-minute miles. It may be more problematical when the mileage increases - going too fast at the wrong time would make it harder to run quicker when the schedule calls for it.

I don't want to trivialise the weeks ahead or make Rob complacent, but if he maintains his drive, enthusiasm and fitness, sub-4:00 should be a breeze! Hopefully this will be confirmed by his first races of 2009 in due course.

About Rob

Rob says: I started running in 1982 when a notice appeared at college asking for volunteers to push a bed around the Manchester Marathon. My mates and I thought it would be a laugh, and it was – even when the bed wheels fell off in the first mile! It took us more than six hours in the end.

I eased up on the training for a while after, and then after not running a step for six months I entered another marathon as a drunken student bet. Five days later I ran a PB.

I’ve always been very sporty – I played a lot of badminton at school – and I’ve been running on and off for the past 25 years. I get such a buzz from it, and it helps keep me healthy too. It’s also kept me sane through some traumatic and life-changing incidents.

I've been an RW forumite for more than eight years, and I’ve met many real-life friends through the forums. Already there’s a great camaraderie among the six of us too – I’m sure we’re all going to bounce ideas off each other, which will be really exciting.

A recurring ankle has hampered my training in the past but I know that, with proper training and a goal to aim for, I can reach my marathon "Holy Grail" of sub-4:00.

Steve says: Rob has been running for 25 years but has still not reached his potential. His best marathon time is 4:14, but based on what I've seen of his basic speed, pace judgement and his enthusiasm, a sub-4:00 is well within his reach.

It should also be an advantage that Rob is one of the longest standing forumites and bound to have huge support on the forums.

However, he does need to work on the consistency of his training, his endurance and make sure he doesn't get injured. Occasionally this will mean missing sessions when he has a niggle to ensure it doesn't develop into a full-blown injury.

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marathon misc, marathon goal, marathon schedule

Discuss this article

Introducing the fourth member of our Lucozade Sport Super Six… Rob (aka fat face).

Rob's been running for 25-plus years and is one of our most time-honoured forumites. Since running his first marathon in 1982 (pushing a hospital bed as he ran), he's run another five marathons and knocked two hours off his PB.

Rob will be using our sub-4:00 Garmin-ready schedule (devised by former London Marathon winner Mike Gratton) as a basis for his training and will be mentored by Steve Smythe directly on this thread (starting January 5).

He’ll also be posting his training progress on a regular basis, and feedback the fuel and hydration advice given to him by the team at Lucozade Sport so make sure you check back regularly to find out how he gets on.

You can read more about Rob’s running background and goals by clicking on the article link at the top of the thread.

Good luck Rob!

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 17:34

Congrats on winning the prize Rob!

As a former recipient of this prize (albeit for the Great North Run) I know how great the support is and helped me enormously. I'm sure you will succeed in your goal too. 

All the very best! 

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 17:52

Well done Fat Face - lets see if you can beat me this time
Posted: 22/12/2008 at 18:45


I shall be closely monitoring the cake intake between now and April.

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 18:58

As I voted for you FF I demand the surplus cake. I feel dead chuffed for you, best of luck and what more could you want as a nice early xmas pressie. (Don't say Rachael Stevens - Sezz might be lurking {O
Posted: 22/12/2008 at 19:41

Great News, FF, really pleased for you and of course not in the least bit envious

Very Best of Luck for the next Few Months . . if you need any Top Tips you know my number

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 19:46


See you at Mudchute

Sezzy you joining us? 

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 19:48

Woo hoo!  Its kind of dizzying.

So, we shall be looking to Sezz for confirmation about the vailidity of your food diary.  Just how good *have* you been whilst writing it?

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 19:55

Wah hay. Me me me me me me me me me.

I'm just cooking me lard laiden tea and I'll be back in a bit.

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 19:56

7:00am - Mince pie

7:30am - coffee and mince pie

9:30am - (at work) - mince pie

Do you get the picture Wotsit?

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 20:03

you missed a Mince Pie & Lucozade Sports Drink Window at 8.15am . . shame on you!!

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 20:11

kittenkat wrote (see)

Has anyone else noticed that sezz and ff have now been picked for races?...... out of thousands of people, what a coincidence(!)

(let the conspiracy theories flow)

I reckon the Mafia will have the answer

Well done FF, there will be jelly babies aplenty waiting for you at Mudchute

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 20:38

Well done FF.  I'll be following your progress with interest.
Posted: 22/12/2008 at 20:45

D'ya know, I thought I was hungry.

Right, I've a bit more time to waffle now that I've eaten my bangers and mash.

So, to say I'm pleased to get picked is an understatement. You always enter these things thinking you've no chance and then I  get picked.

Part of the prize was a camera which I appear to have broken already. Another part of the prize was a sooper dooper Garmin 405, but I'm sure it tells lies. It works on the bus on the way to work though but I have noticed that whilst waiting at the bus stop, it carries on clocking up distance. I reckon that if I stand still at Blackheath next April for long enough, I won't even have moved and I could clock up 26.2 miles.

I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the schedule which starts in January. I've been increasing my mileage  and frequency over the last 6 weeks in preparation as in the past, a heavy week training for a marathon has been 3 runs and 25 miles. I'm going to have to plan my training week carefully, as I have a job where I work any 5 from 7 days and I'm on my feet all day. Fortunately, I'm in a position where running to and from work can easily be done, which is a huge bonus.

One of my problems is that I like food. I also rather enjoy a pint or two or three etc. But I'm  already at a better starting position for any marathon that I've ever done. I'm the lightest I've been for over 20 years and I'm running as well well as I've ever been.

So thanks for all the good wishes. I shall try my best, but one things for sure, I'll be having a laugh as go along.

Wardi - I had a couple of pints of Sam Smiths on Saturday. Very nice too.

RichK - I'll be using your number. You enjoy food as much as me!!!

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 20:56

KK - I was wondering who would be the first to post that comment.
Posted: 22/12/2008 at 20:58

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 21:04

FF . . when are you going to own up to actually having 749 RW Forum log-on i/d's . . all of whom appear to have put themselves forward for this competition

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 21:14

Well done FF - surely the most flatulent of the Six.

I hope Sezz will give you a slap if you backslide at any point.

Good luck!

Posted: 22/12/2008 at 21:19

Good luck fellow lucky person
Posted: 22/12/2008 at 21:22

Thanks very much to all the well wishers.

I've sort of got my warm up races lined up. But my first mini-target is to weigh the same on January 5th as I do now. Hmmmmmm, that's going to be the hardest bit I reckon.

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 09:18

Hey FF

See at the next London Social, I'll but you an OJ

Well done mate

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 09:22

well done FF
Posted: 23/12/2008 at 09:31

Well done FF! Obviously a vote for me, counted as 5 votes for you.....

Seriously though, hope it goes well. I look forward to following this

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 10:30

Thinking about it, I think Sezz is the real winner (again!). Free hotel, no training pressure, free Lucozade stuff, and you out of the house every day running.

Congrats Sezz!

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 10:36

Congrats, FF...I am more than willing to drink on your behalf at the next Social...
Posted: 23/12/2008 at 10:47

feck me fart face - I didn't know you were officially slower than me over 26.2 miles! I have a 3 in front of my time - so if I can do it then so can you!!

good luck matey

fart on
Posted: 23/12/2008 at 11:05

Well done fat face - I'll be cheering for you in April! 

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 11:17

KK, I'm pretty sure everyone took it as a joke, I know I did.
Posted: 23/12/2008 at 11:20

So is Sezz going to join us at Mudchute to give you grief half way round?
Posted: 23/12/2008 at 11:20

Well done, FF - Blummin' well deserved!

I'll be sure to pass on my abuse via the appropriate medium (get Wotsit to do it). 

45??  Really?

I thought 60.  

Going on 7.

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 11:22

Well done FF
Posted: 23/12/2008 at 11:46

Good luck FF!
Posted: 23/12/2008 at 11:50


Great news not-so-fattie!!

Loving the video diary - will be fun to keep tracks on you that way!!

Good luck me old matey x
Posted: 23/12/2008 at 12:19

Well done FF.  Look forward to following your progress and yelling abuse (oops, offering words of encouragement) at Mudchute!!

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 12:37

Nice one FF, i'd forgotten about this.

If you're out for a run in the Chess Valley and fancy some company let me know.

Will you and Sezz be doing the Watford half? 

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 13:56

Lunacy - I aim to be the first one to show my arse on my video diary!!!

PM - I'm deffo doing it, Sezz is a maybe.

Ultra K - All abuse is welcome. I'm the first to dish it out at races, so it's time for everyone to et their own back.

Nam - I think Sezz is planning to be at Mudchute but will also aim to try and get to the finish in time to see me stagger in.

Froggy - another reason why we couldn't go skiing this winter. Just ask Womble about my ski-holiday to injury ratio. I think it's about 1:1. I knew about this at the time, you asked, but was sworn to secrecy.

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 14:05

Hi fat face

how are u mate

i believe a little training and u will be smashing the sub 4

just dont stop for 26.2 miles u will be on for 3.30 mark no problem

all the best

c and speak to u soon


Posted: 23/12/2008 at 15:52

OMG!!!! I can't believe how Scouse I sound on that video.

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 16:43

You can have my arse showing quota, if you want. 

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 16:52

Well done FF!

See you there!

Btw - you don't look at all how I imagined ... you'll have to change your name!

Posted: 23/12/2008 at 17:03

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