|At a Glance Profile|
Nickname: Right Said Aouita
Strengths: I'm quite slim (less weight to carry) and stubborn.
Most dreading: Discovering it's not that fast; lactic acid.
Favourite races: Henley Half-Marathon (despite the one-mile hill)Did you know? I hold the world record for migrating from adolescence to middle age (overnight).
• My RW profile
Flora London Marathon: Race Day
Dan says: Deciding not to run was a tough decision, but the problems I had in March with my long runs (that is, running out of energy and finding the runs five times harder than ever before) meant I took too much time off overall. I haven’t yet got to the bottom of the causes and I’m just not fit enough to run a marathon.
I was totally gutted about not reaching the Lucozade Sport Super Six denouement - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ve learned a lot from everyone involved and it’s a real shame I won’t be able to reciprocate and close the narrative with a sparkly PB giftwrapped in stubborn emotion.
Dan's Video Diary
Weeks 13 - 14
Dan says: This fortnight, my old fatigue demons have returned. After some frustratingly slow and exhausting sessions, I knew something was up. I've been absolutely wiped and sleeping way more than usual but still feeling tired. So I've been to the doctors, had all kinds of blood tests and will hopefully find out soon whether it's a virus, anaemia or something else equally evil. Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to running over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
Despite this and the other "speedbumps" I've hit en route to London, I've put a lot of miles in the bank and the hard work is already done. If nothing else, running six half-marathon distance runs in seven weeks is more than I've ever done! Even if I have to throw my original target time out of the window, I'm happy to focus on enjoying myself and making sure I feel good for 26 miles.
Nick says: Dan has been struggling with energy issues over the last fortnight so has been to his GP for blood tests. He has suffered from fatigue in the past; we need to establish whether it is due to a virus or possibly anaemia.
Dan desperately wants to run the marathon, but so long as he’s feeling unwell and washed-out he needs to take care of himself first and foremost. The Bank Holiday weekend – an opportunity for Dan to take time out from work - will be crucial. Depending on Dan's health and well-being, we will make a decision as to whether he will run the marathon over the next three or four days.
Weeks 11 - 12
Dan says: After a low patch, things are picking up for my training. I was dithering over whether to do the Bath Half-Marathon (March 15) as I wasn't feeling 100% and had missed some training, but I went for it, and finished in under 1:40! I'm so glad I did it - after all, races are the reason I'm training.
I went with the intention of getting round rather than aiming for a PB - I think marathon runners do have to be philosophical about all the changes that can affect even the best-laid plans. But once I got there and got going, I surprised myself. My body felt good when running at 7:30 minute mile pace, and my splits for Miles 4 to 9 were all within 10 seconds of each other!
I'm really proud - and relieved - that I'm getting towards the top of the marathon-training "mountain" now, and will soon be heading downhill for taper time.
Nick says: Dan ran well in the Bath Half-Marathon, clocking a new PB and steadying the ship slightly at a difficult time. However, his long run last Saturday felt really hard even though he was running slowly. He couldn't understand the cause of this at the time but he's since come down with a nasty cold and sore throat.
To avoid prolonging the infection, he's been sensible and backed off his training a little this week. We've added a few extra rest days to his schedule and swapped in recovery runs to ease him back gently. Having focused on getting enough sleep and good nutrition too, hopefully he'll be able to enjoy another long run this weekend.
Weeks 9 - 10
Dan says: Part of the experience has been a nutritional analysis - let’s just say the truth hurts! I had no idea how little fruit and veg I eat. So I’ve turned over a new leaf, and have started making some changes: eating a proper breakfast, more white meat, fruit and vegetables – and a bit less chocolate.
This fortnight kicked off with a great long run – I even managed to crank it up to marathon pace for the last 45 minutes. Since then, I’ve just been trying to get stuck in and keep running. It has been hard - my other half’s been battling a cold, and I’ve been much busier and a little under the weather too.
I don’t want to take any risks at this stage of my marathon preparation, so I’m going to take it easy for a couple of days and then get back out on the road again and see how it feels. I’m definitely a fighter and I’ve got six weeks on my side...
Nick says: Dan has had an interesting couple of weeks. On the whole, his training has gone well but he has had a couple of days where he completely lacked energy and his runs were a struggle. This isn't unusual at this stage in his marathon preparation - when his runs and sessions get longer. He has simply been over-tired and has suffered slightly from depleted glycogen stores. A couple of days of easy running, rest and better nutrition should help him get back on track.
Dan has the Bath Half-Marathon (March 15) this weekend and will be running how he feels. This could be marathon pace (or quicker) though if this doesn't feel right, he'll be treating it as a relaxed long run instead.
Generally speaking, Dan's making great progress. A couple of setbacks aside, he now needs to focus on how well the rest of his training has gone to build his confidence for the weeks ahead.
Weeks 7 - 8
Dan says: I'm back! After illness and holiday, I dived headlong back into running, full of energy and that very "RW" bullish spirit.
Running while I was away in South Africa was fantastic. Unfortunately, no part of Cape Town is flat, and that special word 'undulating' really came into its own! I used the trails that criss-cross Table Mountain, running along 'contour paths' under the pine trees and gawping at the view. I did need to plan the long runs to avoid the heat but managed to squeeze in a satisfying two-hour stint.
I've since experienced a very special marathon-running moment. Something has finally clicked. Not in my mind but in my body (which has been around the block a bit over the last few months). The brief was a 2:15 run, with the last 45 minutes at marathon pace. And it was fine. Well, more than that - it felt really straightforward. That in itself feels wonderful.
Nick says: Dan has returned from South Africa - with its wonderful sunshine - revitalised and ready to rock. He managed to shake his virus while in SA so was able to run there after all. The net result has seen a fabulous return to form and his recent long run with marathon pace went totally to plan.
Like Helen, life has been hectic this week but for Dan it has been long working hours and pressures. All part of the real running mix!
I am sure Dan will have a good long run this weekend and we look forward to the next couple of weeks.
Weeks 4 - 6
Dan says: Real life has taken over my schedule recently. My daughter was ill, then I caught her bug, was contagious and advised not to run; and now I'm going on holiday.
With conjunctivitis so soon after my toothache, my Achilles heel appears to be strange yet painful illnesses - what next?! I've always thought that what's difficult in marathon training is rarely the running itself - it's staying healthy. People rarely pull out of marathons because they're not fit enough. If I'm really tired, then its counterproductive to go running, so recently I've learnt to be more flexible.
On a good note, I'm seeing Threshold Tuesdays in a new light. It's re-assuring to know I'm not alone during a hard session - I now envisage runners all over the UK diving into their schedules, feeling the pain, using their willpower and going to bed tired but happy.
Nick says: Dan has had conjunctivitus and has been sensibly resting or running easy. He is then due to go to South Africa so we have planned his training to take into account travel, fatigue and recovery from this virus. Hopefully the warm weather will do him good and he will come back fighting fit and raring to go again.
Previously, Dan has continued to make fabulous progress - his threshold sessions and long runs have all gone to plan. His illness is a minor speed bump, not a brick wall.
I've asked Dan to chat to the team at Lucozade Sport again with regards to boosting his immune system after training too. As a dad with young children, he has been suffering from coming home tired and picking up germs while his immune system is still low. There are plenty of solutions (that don't involve locking the children away in a dark place) and we need to get that immune system stronger.
Weeks 1 - 3
Dan says: I’m doing lots of things differently – I need to stay confident, watch out for my hamstrings, make sure I stick with the right pace, do more sessions than I’ve ever done before, and make sure I eat properly. But I’ve also discovered how much stronger my body is than my mind – even after no sleep, and with awful toothache, if the body’s willing, I now know I can do the session.
Interval and threshold training has been a revelation – it’s confusing to speed up and slow down and it’s seriously hard work; but it’s so satisfying to finish, and it makes me feel so fit! I’m good, I’m happy – let’s crack on!
Nick says: Dan has been very busy at work and has had to plan his training carefully to fit around family, business and key lifestyle factors. He is doing a great job and learning to be flexible in his weekly approach. Sometimes, just because the schedule has this or says that doesn't matter. The key ingredients are what really counts and their order can be changed.
Dan is definitely getting used to the concepts of effort and pace, and is now mastering the art of when to push in key sessions and when to run easy. This will become crucial as his long runs build and sessions ask questions. Dan used to just run to cover distance - his pace would be dictated by how he felt that day. This works to a point but to hit target marathon pace, other weekly runs and sessions must be scaled to effort accordingly. All in all though, Dan is doing a great job. He just needs to continue with the plan and allow adjustments if required.
Dan says: The first time I went running for fun – as opposed to because I had to – was in my early 20s. I simply wanted to keep fit so was only training on and off, at a low-intensity level.
I decided early on that I wanted to run a marathon, so entered the Flora London Marathon a couple of times via the ballot. Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful and then when I did get a place, I got injured halfway during my training so was forced to pull out.
I persevered though, and eventually secured a place in the Flora London Marathon 2005. It was an amazing experience and I knew straight away that I’d do another, not least because I missed going sub-four hours by 10 seconds.
It’s a long road ahead, but I’m excited to be working with Nick. With his help, I’m looking forward to becoming a stronger, faster runner and learning a lot more about running in general. Hopefully, Nick’s input will also help prevent me from getting injured during such a long period of training.
I’ll be happy with anything under four hours, though with the wind at my back I think I may well have 3:45 in me!
Nick says: Dan has 12 years of running experience and his goal for this year's Flora London London is to run 3:45. He also wants to run a sub-1:40 half-marathon along the way.
When he's not training for a race, Dan will usually run once or twice a week for three to four miles, but when he is preparing for a marathon, he adds in a longer run and sometimes increases the runs already described.
Dan has to balance his working life with that of being a father and currently, is very busy with his business. He loves to run off-road and his greatest strength is his enjoyment of the physical process of running. He dislikes running on the treadmill, the road and repeated loops.
He is currently building a simple endurance base, which will enable him to run up to four times a week by the beginning of January (when the schedule starts). He is building his long runs up to 60-90 minutes of easy running; his other runs have been 30-45 minutes at a relaxed effort. Dan has also been encouraged to include some threshold blocks in one of his weekly runs.