Running the BostonUK Marathon 31 May 2021 – the flattest marathon in the UK.

It would come up 0.05 short on Strava!

I had got into a good routine over lockdown and had decided to do a Run Streak for a month I got hooked and carried on my Run Streak which eventually lasted 261 days. I had a cake when I’d done 200 days. It stopped because I picked up an injury 5 weeks before this marathon. Doing a Run Streak made running easier for me as it was not a question of “shall I go for a run, or shall I leave it for today?” It was “I’m a run streaker, of course I run today,” I only need to do 2-3km slowly”. It became like having a shower, something I just did everyday.


I was finding things tough in the last couple of years and running is the one thing that improves my mood, so its my coping mechanism for when times are hard.

Before Lockdown I always struggled to go running outside, I didn’t go if it was wet, windy, too cold, too hot unless it was a race or a parkrun. Previously, I did most of my running on the treadmill at my gym.I never did strength training and for years always would say “I should start doing sit ups, press ups etc.”, but never ended up doing them. I couldn’t even do one full press up! But, under lockdown when the gyms closed I started doing YouTube workouts and Indoor Rowing everyday. I finally had a stronger core and should have done it years ago. I also lost a lot of weight so that made running easier.

All alone!!!😂😂😂

Anyway, I was so excited coming to Boston, I had been very stressed at home and didn’t have very high self-esteem so I needed something to make me feel good about myself and feel accomplished. This was also one of the few times I had come to a running event on my own. Over the years I had come to rely on my husband but this time I would do the marathon by myself.

I was a little bit anxious at the start only because I hadn’t really run properly for the past 5 weeks but I was fit and I had done all my long runs. I was just hoping my injury wouldn’t stop me. In the end, my leg hurt more and more the further I when but I was able to finish it although I was running very slowly for the last 6-8 miles but really those miles signs seem to just fly by. I’m a little bit injured again because I ran it but I’m taking care to rest a bit from running.

View while running….very flat!

Using Sport Psychology Self-Help Interventions

Athletes crave interventions that improve performance. Finding an intervention that works could involve working with a professional sports scientist or following a self-help package. Recent years has seen a rapid growth in the popularity in self-help interventions. Andy Lane offers guidance on how to use self-help interventions to improve performance. (Photo above: Andy Lane finishing Virgin Money London Marathon).

The nature of sport is that individuals strive to find methods to improve performance. Commercial activity to meet this demand has led to increased availability of products such as sports drinks, supplements, equipment modification and numerous self-help books.

In this article, Andy Lane focuses upon the use of self-help materials designed to give an athlete a psychological edge. However, it’s worth noting that physiological, biomechanical, technical and nutritional factors tend to work in tandem with psychological ones. Thus, anyone considering using a self-help intervention should remember that changing one aspect of performance could influence another. For example, in my experience with endurance athletes, interventions that bring about improvements in physiological indices that athletes see as important (lactic threshold, Vo2) are coupled with improvements in psychological ones. (below a runner taking a VO2 max test).

What is a self-help intervention?

An intervention occurs in a number of different ways. In other contexts, e.g., if you are feeling ill you could book an appointment at your GP.  Alternatively, if you have had the illness before, and believe you have correctly identified it, you could take an over-the-counter medication. The following stages lead to improved performance in sport:

1. Identify the problem

2. Implement the intervention and establish the criteria for judging effectiveness

3. Assessment its effectiveness

In sport psychology, the problem can be difficult to identify; an athlete might want to perform better but knowing which parts to work on is complex also assessing the effectiveness can be difficult, especially as psychological data tend to be subjective, an issue exacerbated by the fact that following a self-help intervention, you are both the client and consultant.

Self-help interventions and sport psychology: do they work?

There is an extensive literature that describes how to use self-help sport psychology interventions (1). I have contributed to this literature including authoring 17 Peak Performance articles (see, each one offering self-help advice.

How do I know if this is good advice? How do I know if the interventions I propose work?

The intervention should be supported by theory and tested scientifically.

The evidence supporting the use of self-help psychological interventions is strong and not restricted to sport (2).

In clinical psychology, patients that followed an online self-help intervention for the treatment of anxiety and depression recovered as effectively (3). 

In health psychology, self-help interventions have helped people manage cravings when following diets (4).

In sport psychology, self-help interventions successfully led to runners not only experiencing more pleasant emotions but also performing better (5).

So how do I develop an effective self-help package?

The question an individual following a self-help intervention should ask her or himself is; “how do I identify where gains can be made”? With self-help interventions, the individual is also a consultant, and therefore, it is important to establish monitoring systems to enable identification of factors that appear to influence performance.  

Your training diary as a way of assessing whether an intervention is needed?

A training diary can be a very effective way of identifying which variables to target for intervention work. However, at least three factors influence the relative success of using a training diary to help guide interventions. First, the diary needs to capture important variables that influence performance and be open to the possibility that you are not assessing the right information. An individual following a self-help intervention needs to be open to new ideas and continue reading widely. The individual is both the client and the consultant, and we expect consultants to be professionals who keep up with the latest research.

With the data sitting in front of you, the key question is “how do I make sense of it so that I know how my performance can be improved”? When deciding what data to record, you should also consider what you will do with it. If you record time spent training then presumably you will use this information to gauge whether it was useful in helping you achieve your goal? If you believe that running long periods of time, or completing certain distances, will help you achieve your marathon goal, then seeing that you are running for longer is likely to improve your confidence. However, if confidence is also influenced by the relative intensity of each run, and you realise that you are running for longer but at a lower intensity your confidence to be able to run at the high intensity on race day may not necessarily be increased. In the example above, the athlete should reflect on whether distance covered is truly a marker of progress with a suggestion that speed needs to be considered and recorded. The key point here is to have a strategy on how you will analyse data and how this will relate to the relative achievement of your goals.

 A third factor to consider is that the act of keeping a training diary could be an intervention itself, particularly for helping manage unwanted emotions. Keeping a diary where you detail intense emotional experiences has been found to be an effective self-help strategy. Expressive writing is proposed to help process information better, and help restructure information from these experiences in a way that if such a situation arises next time, then they are better coped to deal with it (7).

Putting into practice

Training diaries for endurance athletes are aided by the use of modern technology. You can get satellite navigation technology on your mobile phone with numerous free apps available to help record and collate training. In this regard technology has provided a huge advantage in that it takes away potential biases deriving from inaccurate measurement. Further, all you need to do is put on the device, and press start and stop to record training. You do not need to write down what was done which brings in issues to do with the accuracy of recall especially if you do not record what was done shortly after the session.

In addition to this type of data, It’s suggested to record daily mood. Mood is a useful way of recording how well you are coping with training demands. Mood can be used to help balance your training so that you are recovered sufficiently so to maintain quality.

As indicated previously, expressive writing has been found to be an effective intervention strategy. By exploring the likely cause of unwanted emotions, you also begin to develop a blueprint that helps you recognisesituations which bring these and therefore provide opportunities through which to choose a different path to act in the future. For example, if speaking to competitors on the start line gets you particularly nervous, or their banter evokes anger which in turn affects your race strategy, then recognising this to be the case might help change your decision on where to warm-up. You could warm-up alone or rather than warming up near your competitors, and if situational factors prevent this, then listening to music via headphone can serve to block out their conversations. 


1. Inside sport psychology, Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010

2. Clinical Psychological Review 2006; 13, 169-186

3. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2011; 79: 123-128

4. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2008; 34: 381-393

5. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 2011; 10: 400-407.

6. Psychological Science 1997; 8: 162-166

Sport Psychology Consultant: Dr Andy Lane


Consultancy either by Skype £50 per 30 minutes or in person at CHHP (Harley Street, London, call for costs).

Marathon Talk Run Camp 2018: 23rd-25th February.

On Friday 23rd of February 2018 we arrived at Sandy Balls, Godshill, Foringbridge in The New Forest, Hampshire for the Marathon Run Camp 2018.

We met our fellow camp mate as we were put in lodges with 4 other runners.

After meeting the other runners and drinking at the bar we had a welcome from Martin Yelling and Tom Williams who explained what would be happening in the week-end.Saturday Morning we were all off at 8am to do the Moors Valley parkrun. We woke up to a lovely Sunny but chilly morning ready to run the very beautiful Moors Valley parkrun. A record number of 525 runners took part including over 100 from Marathon Talk Run Camp and from 76 clubs. GB Athletes Liz Yelling and Jo Pavey also took part with everyone. (Photo above: GB Athlete Liz Yelling, Moors Valley parkrun race director/volunteer/race reporter Julie Pegoraro, Melanie Campbell and Olympic Gold Medalist Jo Pavey). The photo below is the Marathon Talk Camp runners.After parkrun as always it was time for coffee, cakes and chatting in the forest cafe and finally returning to Sandy Balls.

A buffet lunch was served followed by a fantastic and interesting Talk by Dr Tim Cruise Drew about his medical support for Eddie Izzard on his Multiple Marathon Challenge in South Africa.In the afternoon we had an optional practical run session in the forest, were we chose a speed group of our choice and did 3 reps of 1km,After dinner in the evening there was a live Q & A session with Jo Pavey, 5 time Olympian and Olympic Gold Medalist. Followed by a group quiz from quiz master Tony Audenshaw.After a brilliant evening Tom Williams and Martin Yelling explained Sunday’s Eliminator Run. It was a team competition where each person had to run the 10 mile course to finish as close to 12 noon as possible where they either wore no watch or there watches were taken off. Points were put on for time finished before noon and double points put on for finishing after noon. The team with the least points won. Everyone predicted their own time and decided to start according to their predicted time.After the Eliminater we all went back to Sandy Balls for another dinner before driving home.

My First Marathon: Stockholm Marathon 1989

I did my first marathon in 1989. I did run at school and stopped like a lot of people, then in my mid 20’s I started running again. I had been living in London for about 3 years and had always kept fit by cycling around London, oblivious to the traffic. I would be petrified to cycle around London now. After a few months of running I decided to do a half marathon. I looked in the Runners World magazine and decided to enter the Watford Half-Marathon. I sent off for the application form, filled it in and sent it back with a cheque and stamped SAE so I could receive the results. Remember this was the ‘back in day’ where online entry didn’t exist (not for me anyway). I did the half-marathon without any problems. Then of course the obvious next thing is to do was a marathon.

I entered the Stockholm Marathon via the same method as before. I must of only done about half a dozen runs until I did my longest which I think could of been as much as 15 miles!! The next day I had a sore knee which lasted about 6-7 weeks, more or less right up until the marathon. As the event came closer, I thought, I can’t chicken out now, I’ve told everyone I’m doing it, accommodation is booked and my cousin had decided to do it as well. For some reason I decided to work in London even the night before. I flew out on the first flight out of Heathrow to Stockholm. I arrive, took a taxi to the park, where my cousin was waiting for me. He had flew from Monte Carlo for the marathon. I think the marathon started at 1pm in the afternoon. I would never do something so daft nowadays, what if the plane was late?

Anyway, the Stockholm Marathon started. It was amazing Bands, Massages, Drinks, Food all as you ran and a fantastic crowd. I can remember crossing lots of bridges and it seemed to be drizzling with rain for a lot of it. By 18 miles I was knackered and my knee was sore, so there was some walking.

Finally, I got to the Stadium at the end before the 5 hour cut off point. My cousin greeted me with “I thought you were never going to get here, I’ve been waiting for ages.”We walked back to where we were staying. Our accommodation was a boat on the river. I was so, so, so tired. My cousin had to push me out to get something for dinner. We had a McDonalds. The next day we flew home. I was shattered and I thought “never again”. I was not fit and it’s not the way to run a marathon. Did I do another marathon?

Book Recommendation: Running Science (Editor, John Brewer)

If I was going to buy someone a running book this Christmas, I would buy this. An increasing number of people are buying E-books rather than hardback books, myself included. However, this is one of the few books I will have on my shelf at home. I enjoy reading it and find it so informative. It explains the Science of Running in a way that anyone can understand. It has large pages, large pictures and large print. It’s also not full of stuff that is not relevant or too academic. My attention span is very short so this is perfect for me. The content is excellent. The format is brilliant. Each page begin with a question and then it is explained. E.g.,

What affects recovery rate after exercise? Can I become a better runner by changing my style? Will supplements improve my running? Will a cup of coffee help me run better? Are Sports Drinks good for me? Can I run through pain? What should I think about when I’m running? How can I keep my mind positive? How much should I increase my Training? What is HIIT and should I be doing it? Is more mileage in training always better? How quickly do I lose fitness if I stop running? Can a heart rate monitor improve performance? Will core strength and stability training keep me injury free? Can sports massage help with injuries or performance? Is running bad for my knees? Will a foam roller make me a better runner?

Authors: John Brewer, Iain Fletcher, Laura Charalambous, Bob Murray, Daniel Craighead, Andy Lane, Charles Pedlar, James Earle, Paul Larkins, Anna Barnsley,

Book Available from Amazon Amazon link for Running Science Book

Future Event: The Rutland Spring Half Marathon 8th April 2018

The Rutland Spring Half Marathon, takes place on the 8th April 2018.

The Rutland Spring Half Marathon

The course offers exceptional views of the lake from Hambleton Peninsula. For those who have taken part in our September race, this course covers the section of the route half marathoners miss in our September addition of the race. Its such a lovely part of the course we wanted to give everyone an opportunity to race there.

Entries are limited to 500 so don’t miss out. You can expect the same friendly welcome, beautiful course, great feedstations, medal, t-shirt and amazing experience you’d expect from our September race.

My husband and I are the worst parents: Running the ING Amsterdam Marathon with young children.

Nine years ago my husband and I ran the ING Amsterdam Marathon when our children were young. Here’s that story………………..

For 12 years while my children were young I didn’t run. I didn’t do that much exercise except walking the kids to school and a little bit at the gym. So when my oldest was 12 years old I said to my husband “I’d like to run another marathon”. I’d run two marathons in my mid twenties and had obviously forgotten how hard it was and that you do need to train, although the longest run for those was only 13 miles.

Anyway, I worked up to jogging to an hour on the treadmill and my husband ran with me outside. We built it up to an 11 mile run and then entered The Leek Half Marathon. I had no idea it was hilly, my god those hills. We must be the worst parents in the world because we just left the kids at the playground at the start with their Gameboys and off we went. They were 11 & 13 years old but I worried about them the whole time.

I think we did a few more 11-16 miles runs and then it was time for ING Amsterdam Marathon. We walked to exhaustion on the Saturday, not a good idea. Again, we were the worst parents ever. We left our kids in the Amsterdam Stadium with their Gameboys, sweets, biscuits, etc. They were there for over 3 hours before my husband came in. I worried about them the whole time again. We both finished in a bit of a state, my husband toe was sliced open from fairly new shoes and I obviously hadn’t done enough training. Still we got to the airport and flew out and got the kids to bed at 2am, 4 hours sleep before school. Poor kids.

The Centurion Running Autumn 100 Race: Saturday 21 – Sunday 22 October 2017

By Akgun Ozsoy

After a year, I was at Goring again for Centurion Running’s Autumn 100 race. My goal was finishing my 3rd 100 miles under 24 hours and earning that “One Day” buckle. Last year I completed A100 in 25:17 and then did a very slow SDW100 (28:18) in June. This time I promised myself not to talk about problems I have had before -and during- the race because after running several ultra marathons I have realised that these are all inevitable parts of this sport. Simply if I wanted to tackle these issues, I should have been prepared well in every aspect.

After SDW100, I did two very hilly races. Ultimate Trails 110k (19:43) in July and then 10 Peaks Brecon Beacons (21:24) in September. In addition to several long runs before A100, I guess circuits classes which I have been attending almost a year did a big impact. These workouts are great for core strength and endurance.

I was very excited before the race but my confidence was high as well. This year my wife and daughter came with me too and I asked them to come back to the Village Hall before 10am on Sunday.

We had a brief chat with Iain Stewart while waiting for the race brief. This was his last race for grand slam and I think this is a big challenge. Congratulations to him by the way.

My plan was simple. Completing 50 miles 10 hours and then every 25 miles in 7 hours. I started the race at a steady pace and arrived Little Wittenham almost in 2 hours. Another goal was consuming less food in order to avoid stomach problems. So at each CP I ate very few things which I am familiar and left immediately. The first leg was completed in 4:15 as last year.

Rather than sitting in the Village Hall for long, I aimed to leave as soon as possible. Last year I spent more than a hour in total at this warm and cosy CP so I just taped my feet and left in 10 minutes.

The 2nd leg was my favourite one. Small towns in between trails among the forest and then the picturesque Swyncombe. Brigitte Groves was in North Stoke CP and the team here was marvellous again. Thanks for the picture and the warm soup again.

I managed to complete 50 miles in 10 hours but I think the critical part of the race started at this point. I pushed myself hard during the 3rd leg and always tried to run more and more. Just ignored the wind and focused on the trail during the night. Did not waste time at Chain Hill as well and left in a minute after picking up few grapes only. I tried Jack Daniel’s fudge at Bury Downs, of course, they were great. And the infamous last leg! I already knew that the Reading sign and the Reading CP was not close so enjoyed the quiet trail along the Thames. The volunteers at this CP was great as well with their Hawaiian shirts but I left after a couple of minutes because the clock on the wall was reminding the time. On the way back, the night section was over I was feeling well. Did not spend much time at Whitchurch CP as well, left just after getting two grapes in seconds.

I ran the last 4 miles very well and at the end, I arrived Goring in 23 hours 41 minutes! All hard training sessions were for this moment and I was very happy while receiving the special buckle. Thanks to Nici Griffin, James Elson and all volunteers for organising such a fantastic event. Special thanks to my wife Reside Ozsoy and my daughter Suna. It is very obvious that when your loved ones are waiting for you at the finish line, you are running with a different enthusiasm.

Great Birmingham Marathon 15th October 2017: A report from a Sub 2 hour 30 min marathon runner.

By Dan Robinson

I found myself on the start line of my local marathon just a week after smashing myself to pieces to run a new PB of 2.29 at Chester Marathon. Conventional wisdom would tell you that this isn’t the ideal preparation for 26.2 miles but luckily I had only entered the race with the intention of pacing a training partner as far as I could manage and then jogging home and enjoying what I hoped would be a good atmosphere.

08:30 was an early start time which didn’t help reduce the sluggish feeling in my legs and I was just focused on trying to get up to speed off the line. I genuinely didn’t know how long I would be able to hold the pace my friend had requested, of around 5:45 per mile but I just determined to follow the old cliché of taking one mile at a time. As it was the first year of this event we weren’t too sure about the depth of the field. As we set off from Alexander Stadium it quickly became clear that there wasn’t much of a field at all and I was quickly in 6th place as the first few guys rapidly spread out.

The initial miles were relatively rolling with not much in the way of crowd and at that stage it felt like it could be a very long day. At 10km we were fractionally off the anticipated pace but given the hilly start I wasn’t too concerned. My pal was already starting to struggle though and I tried to reassure him that we just needed to run the course to effort and forget about split times. Luckily, we were soon onto the first of two loops which took in the very familiar territory of Cannon Hill Park up to Bournville and back. There was far more support on this section of the course which was great and the miles seemed to tick by much more quickly. By this stage I was needing to encourage my friend a fair bit, he was struggling well before halfway which I knew would be psychologically really challenging. We worked our way through halfway about 90s down on time and in the same position. By about mile 18 he was really beginning to struggle and my presence was probably more of an irritation than a help. For the next mile he kept encouraging me to push on. I was reluctant at first but I think he wanted to drop to his own pace. Finally a shout from the side of the road that a couple of guys were struggling ahead convinced me to push on and try and get the podium on behalf of my mate as that had been a big target for him. I picked it up slightly and actually felt much more comfortable. I reflected that if I had had these legs the previous week I would have been able to improve my PB by a considerably greater margin. It shows that despite spending so much time thinking about preparation there are things we can’t control. It was a great feeling to be so in control in the final miles of a home race and my club vest was attracting plenty of support. It is a rare thing to be able to enjoy the final miles of a marathon so I just relaxed and did exactly that, even hi-fiving people in the final few miles. I passed the third placed runner at about mile 23 and ran my fastest 400m of the race immediately after just to make sure he didn’t harbour any illusions of hanging on so that I could resume my relaxed state. The finish was a little more subdued than the previous half marathon finishes in the city, largely due to the location limiting the number of spectators but there were still enough there to make it feel special.

There are races which are satisfying because you have targeted them and worked hard to achieve a specific goal. On the other hand, this was just an absolute bonus with no pressure and a real sense of enjoyment from a personal point of view. I was disappointed on behalf of my friend but he still showed tremendous guts to finish 5th, an amazing effort given the way he felt on the day. For me, this was simply a matter of enjoying the fitness I had worked so hard for and taking advantage when my legs felt so much better than expected.

Mother Jessica Bruce ‘sets double buggy marathon record

A mother-of-two is claiming a new world record for running a marathon while pushing a double buggy.

Jessica Bruce, who lives in Bristol, ran the Abingdon Marathon with her two children in a double pushchair in three hours, 22 minutes and five seconds.

Guinness World Records set her a minimum of four hours 30 minutes in the race for pushing a double pram (female) as there is no current record holder.

Ms Bruce already has the record for the fastest marathon with a single pram.

A Guinness World Records spokeswoman said they were “looking forward to receiving evidence from Jessica”, following the race on Sunday.

Two years ago, Ms Bruce from Hambrook set a world record for running the same race pushing her then seven-month-old son Daniel in a Pram.

Since then she has had a second child Emilia, and has now tackled the course with both children in a “very specific running buggy”.

“It’s huge with really big wheels and full-on suspension and with the two of them in the buggy I’m pushing about 30kgs,” Ms Bruce said.

“Hills are particularly difficult, downs are a bit easier and we tend to go faster there but flats and any kind of incline really hurt.”

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Ms Bruce said her two young children had been “perfect” with no emergency stops for nappy changes or bottle feeds

Despite the wind being against runners, the family managed to come in 272nd out of 751 runners finishing the course.

“It was like pushing this huge machine into a headwind but we managed to keep going,” she said.

“The last few hours really hurt but I was fairly confident we would be able to do about three hours 45 minutes so it was better then I thought.”

‘Long time in seat’

As for Daniel and six-month-old Emilia, Ms Bruce said they had been “perfect” with no emergency stops for nappy changes or bottle feeds.

“It’s a long time in the seat [for the children] but there’s so much going on and they absolutely love it,” she said.

“We got them up at five o’clock and poor Daniel was sleeping before the race even started, so they slept for the majority of it.