Interview with Peter – Experiences of a world major good for age marathoner

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As part of my blog I (MM) believe it’s important to learn from faster runners than myself to see how I can improve. I am really inspired by Peter’s (PB) journey from a marathon personal best of 2:52 as he targets a 2:35 marathon.

MM: How did you get into running and why do you do it?

PB: Running in my adult years began while I was at university. I found that running was a great escape from the pressures of studying, I also discovered that I was relatively good at it and more importantly that I enjoyed it. I had my first taste of racing during the university cross country championships and this is where my passion really developed, I haven’t looked back since.

Nowadays I still carry the same passion. I love getting out and running whether it’s a hot summers evening or on a wet and cold winters morning, I get frustrated if I haven’t trained for a day or two.

I also run to challenge myself; I would say I’m a competitive person which is why I enjoy racing. I’m always determined to beat my personal best and try to push myself as much as I can.

MM: Injuries are a part of running, but not always easy to deal with, what advice would you give to runners for coping with injuries? 

PB: Injuries are something that the majority of runners will experience at some point and it’s certainly frustrating particularly if you have been training hard for a race or an event. The important part is how you deal with the injury and more importantly how do you prevent it happening again.

I’ve made the mistake myself where I’ll felt a pain in my leg but kept going in the belief that I needed to finish the run, it easily done but it’s very short sighted. The minute you feel a twinge or pain or something that doesn’t feel quite right stop!

Another common mistake which I have been guilty of before is trying return to training from an injury too soon. While it’s frustrating not being able to run especially when you know that other are out training in the long term you’ll recover stronger. Where possible try and cross train, if nothing else it keeps your body and mind active.

MM: Exercises to develop the glutes, core etc. are key to improving running performance, what body areas do you train to improve your running performance?

PB: One of my biggest weaknesses is my flexibility so stretching is key for me, I’ll admit that I don’t always stretch and I’ve certainly suffered because of it. At the moment I’m struggling with my IT band so I’m trying to follow a flexibility plan daily.

I’m lucky to have a pretty strong core, mainly from growing up with a farming background and the many years of helping my Dad with day-to-day farm work.

One area I pay particular attention to is strengthening my quads as I’m a big believer than in doing so helps strengthen your knee which is an area that I have particularly injury prone on the past. I try to incorporate squats into my daily routine, even if it’s only while brushing my teeth.

MM: Congratulations on the achieving good for age qualification for the 2017 London marathon. For those looking to achieve this, what training advice would you suggest to run a faster marathon based on your training programme?

PB: Thank you! London was the first time that I had rigorously followed a set plan. Following a training plan is key particularly for first time marathoners however I think it’s important to be flexible and allow yourself to adjust your training to suit as and when.

If your legs are sore then sometimes it’s better to rest rather than going running just because your plan tells you to. I’ve learnt a lot from London, I know that in my training I didn’t build my mileage early and wasn’t able to do as many long runs. Which in turn meant that I didn’t develop my glycogen levels enough so I really struggled past mile 19, I also ran an easy session too hard and didn’t focus on recovery enough.

Looking ahead to next year I will hopefully be in a stronger position with a greater base fitness to work on, I’ll be comfortable running 20 mile plus run which will allow me to focus on my pace and include more speed sessions. I was aiming for a time of 2.35 in London this year, so was a little off with my time of 2.52.30. It’s made me even more determined to smash it next year.

MM: Mo Farah’s performance in the 10,000m Olympic race, where he was tripped up but still got up to win, was really inspiring. What challenges have you encountered mid race and how have you overcome them?

PB: The biggest challenge that I’ve ever faced mid race was during London this year. It was an absolutely fantastic experience but at mile 19 I really started to suffer. I think my glycogen levels had run out and I really started to struggle, at one point I actually stopped, my legs were throbbing and at the point of seizing.

I considered walking but I knew that I had to keep going and keep my legs turning over. It was definitely psychological, my mind was telling to stop but my heart was telling me to keep going, the crowd support and the other runners were incredible and helped to keep going to the end.

MM: What is your favourite pre marathon meal?

PB: The night before the London marathon I opted for pasta, I don’t think I paid enough attention to glycogen loading prior to London and it is something that I have been practising in the run up to Amsterdam.

The morning of the marathon I had a large bowl of porridge with fresh fruit (blueberries and banana) plus an energy drink and a glass of milk.

I think it’s important to have a trial run eating your pre marathon meals, the last thing you want to do is eat something new that upsets your stomach.

MM: What are your favourite running books?

PB: I’ve just finished reading ‘The Way of the Runner’ by Adharanand Finn it’s a great book and very motivational, I also really enjoyed his first book ‘Running with Kenyans’.

Both books gave a fantastic insight into how different cultures approach running; I’m hoping there will be a third book on the way.

I also enjoy reading autobiographies. Haile Gebrselassie and Usain Bolts are a particular favourites, it’s interesting to see how they developed into the amazing athletes they are. I find running books really motivational and I’m always hoping that I might be up a few tips and advice that will help me improve as a runner.

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