Category Archives: Personal

Posts on my running exploits

Sydney and Hobart runs by a Melbourne lad

Soldier Memorial Walk in Hobart, Tasmania

Soldier Memorial Walk in Hobart, Tasmania

In this last week I have had the need to travel to both Sydney and Hobart for work. With the last big push for Melbourne Marathon underway I needed to run, but also the travel meant I could so without feeling bad for taking time away from the family to run so I managed to get some quality runs in. I must say though the difference in runs between the two cities was chalk and cheese.


I was in Sydney on Thursday and Friday last week and planned all along to manage to use this trip to replace my long run on the weekend (weekend was my only two days at home so didn’t think a 3 hour absence would go down well…) but at the same time I didn’t want to commit to doing 30km as it didn’t really fit into the timeslot I had so, so instead I ran 18km on Thursday evening and 26km on Friday morning.

Thursday’s run saw me run from the CBD over the bridge and around the northern beaches to Mosman and Neutral Bay. I thought I would be able to run along the harbour and enjoy the waterviews. Wrong. Due to the fact that the harbour on the northside is largely private property it meant running inland along roads with very few waterviews. Part of my disappointment was certainly due to my lack of pre-planning a route, but it was a pretty frustrating experience. It was a pretty hilly run in the end and when I got back to the hotel I saw it was 27 degrees which explained why it felt a bit harder than usual.

The second run was much more enjoyable, I ran from the CBD up Oxford St all the way to Bondi Beach and then back along the coast. This had a gradual incline on the way out until the beach and then a few hills on the way back but was a much more pleasant and scenic run. The killer on this one was the humidity, I got back to the hotel and was drenched. The legs certainly also felt the run from the day before.

Usually in Sydney I just run around Darling Harbour/Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, etc but knew that wasn’t going to get me the distance I needed for these runs.


On Monday and Tuesday work took me to Hobart and I came in thinking that despite having two runs planned, I was a bit run down and thought I would get one at the most. It turned out to be two of the most enjoyable runs in a while. On Monday afternoon I headed out of the city up to the Domain and discovered a trail called the Soldiers Memorial Walk. I had grown up in Tasmania but had never heard of this before and since found out it was upgraded after I had left.

This was a nice gravel trail up through parklands where originally the Hobart community had planted 510 trees for soldiers from Hobart killed in World War 1. The upgrades had seen plaques installed to commemorate the soldiers and told a short story of each of them, what unit they were in and where and how they were killed. The parklands were beautiful, I had uninterrupted views of the Derwent River and I literally had to watch my step for rosellas sitting on the side of the path at regular intervals. It was like an untouched world. The trail itself went for about 3km and then I followed some other paths up to a look out before returning via the Domain Athletics track for a few laps and then the gradual descent down the trail. All up I did a leisurely 12km and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

My second run in Hobart was again one that I had thought of skipping, but I woke early and saw it was a nice day out so instead pulled on the runners and did an interval session around the Cenotaph, Regatta Grounds and Domain. It was pretty peaceful and I was able to do 8x600m with 60 seconds rest in between and felt invigorated to start the day.

Pack you’re running gear when traveling

I wouldn’t really like to say I preferred one location over the other as they both offered great challenges and different benefits for running. The warmer weather in Sydney was a great reprieve from a Melbourne winter but the stillness and easy ability to escape to nature in Hobart was a true thing of beauty. Either way it reinforces to me that if I’m traveling for work the most important thing to pack is my running gear so that I can get out of the hotel room and truly explore the city I’m visiting in a way that many people can’t or don’t.


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Two weekends, two marathons?


Last weekend I ran the Sandy Point Marathon in Melbourne, Australia in blustery and challenging conditions and finished in a reasonable 3:45, although the last six kilometres were not the most pleasant. I was happy with that given my main focus remains on the Melbourne Marathon on October 13 and I had only done one run of 30km or more in the lead up to last weekends race; this run was essentially a training run for October.

I was concerned how I would pull up after the race, but Monday morning came around with nothing more than slightly heavy legs; stairs were fine, walking was ok and I made sure not to stay seated in the one position for too long. I stretched, wore compression tights to bed and hydrated plenty. So come Tuesday I was looking on a running forum and saw that another smaller, regional marathon was on this weekend. Surely not? Surely I wouldn’t be thinking of another run already? What would it mean for my Melbourne preparations?

Well, I thought about it. The main area I needed to focus on between now and Melbourne was building up endurance and getting in those 20 mile runs. I was going to be running this weekend anyway although I had only half marathon distance on my schedule but then 30km the next weekend. Why not change it up, run a back to back marathon and get another solid hitout in. 7 weeks out from Melbourne meant that this was a great time to be putting in the really long distance and still have time to recover and adapt for my main race.

Originally I thought I was pushing my luck doing two marathons in eight weeks. No training plan I have ever read recommends running the full marathon distance – in fact most are pretty strong in their direction not to run the full distance. They say the recovery will take too long and the risk for injury, illness and muscle damage is high. They may be right but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had done one marathon and recovered really well.

I waited to see how the week unfolded; a gentle run on Wednesday morning and the legs felt good. My interest piqued. Entry fees were much cheaper than normal marathons and the run was three laps of a 14km loop. This also worked in my favour; if I got to 28km into the race and felt atrocious I could simply pull out and not have to worry about getting to the finish line. Thursday morning I ran again, a conservative effort run but my pace was amazing. It was enough to sway me; I entered and now will be doing two marathons in seven days!

I will certainly be taking it easier this week and running conservatively, perhaps working towards achieving a negative split if I feel good at the end as opposed to blowing up.

I figure I may never get this opportunity to test myself in this way and say I have done it, and I remain convinced that it will help not hinder me come October. That remains my key race for the year so I don’t want to stuff that up, but the lure of this has drawn me in. I’ll never know if I don’t challenge myself and I can’t back down now.

Have you ever run the marathon distance in training for a race?


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Music for my next marathon

A quick scan of many running forums or websites will reveal that (in the simplest of terms) there are two types of runners; those who listen to music when they run and those who don’t. The arguments can sometimes get a little bit irrational but essentially comes down to the added motivation from music versus the safety risk of having your sense of hearing blocked, meaning you may not be aware of passing runners, oncoming cars or the cloaked mugger with a switchblade sneaking up on you. I can understand both sides; I think if music is one thing that can get more people out running than otherwise would be then who am I to complain, but I also acknowledge the very real safety concerns.

Personally I do not listen to music when I run, for both the safety aspect but also that I like the chance to just clear my head and let my mind wander. That said though I love the extra pump up that music can bring and often I assemble a playlist for upcoming races.

Sunday morning will see me running the Sandy Point Marathon in Melbourne, Australia and here is a selection of the recent songs I will be playing in the car on the way to race:

  1. Feel So Close – Calvin Harris
  2. This Is What It Feels Like – Armin van Burren
  3. Fall Down – Will.I.Am (feat. Miley Cyrus)
  4. Not Giving In – Rudimental (featuring. John Newman & Alex Clare)
  5. Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
  6. Alive – Empire of the Sun
  7. Hall Of Fame – The Script feat.

The list may not be for everyone, but they are songs that have been stuck in my head during my training. I often listen to them while stretching and have mental association to the songs now with some really good runs. These are just my songs from the last few months, I like to keep it fresh but certainly have a nice collection of songs from over time that I can list to and associate with happy times.

Do you have any songs you currently like to use to pump you up?

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Love my race number for my next marathon

bibThis Sunday I’ll be racing the Eat Fit Food Sandy Point Marathon in Melbourne, which will mean that Marathon Intervals coverage of the Men’s World Championship will be a little bit limited as sadly I should be fast asleep when that is on.

Apart from that though, I wanted to share what I think is one of the most appropriate bib numbers for the marathon distance; 42! I think the only way it could be better would be if it was 42195, or maybe 262 for those who prefer miles to kilometres. I’ve been in good form lately setting personal bests in 5km, half marathon and 30km in the last month.

Fingers crossed, I’ll be tacking my #42 bib on and able to continue the streak and will set a PB in what I see really as a preparation run for my main marathon, the Melbourne Marathon, on October 13.

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Fast runner, slow learner

So my running pace and race times have been off the charts in recent times, having recorded three PB’s over 5km, half marathon and 30km in the last three weeks. It seems though as my times improve I still make rookie mistakes!

My latest effort occurred yesterday on way to completing a 30km race.

On the way to a PB in a 30km race, a week after my half marathon PB and three weeks before my next marathon.

On the way to a PB in a 30km race, a week after my half marathon PB and three weeks before my next marathon.

My running form was good, my nutrition was good, I stretched afterwards, I was a text book runner. Except for this:


Chafing. Ouch.

Chafing. Ouch.

I forgot to apply any Body Glide or equivalent anti-chafe cream before my run. Today, the day after my race, although my legs are a bit sore, the most pain goes to under my right armpit. It’s an impressive wound but one I would rather not have and could easily avoid. Certainly no applying deodorant today, but certainly a good reminder to apply anti-chafe before my marathon!

At least yesterday I managed to avoid the most horrid of male marathon injuries – the bloody red streaks down the front of the shirt from when friction battles a nipple and wins.

I wondered why people were looking at me funny...

I wondered why people were looking at me funny…

This one is of me after a 20km training run in freezing weather, wind, rain, hail and I think even snow at points. I was on holiday and got back to the hotel and asked for my room key and wondered why the hotel employee was looking at me weird. It was only when I turned around and saw myself in a mirror that I realised why!

It seems that as I get faster I am still a slow learner on simple precautions to avoidable issues. What war stories do you have?

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Back up and running

Well after a few month’s absence Marathon Intervals is back up and running!

The absence has purely been due to a workload issue and certainly not a lack of interest in running, either by myself personally or the in the elite marathon world. I watched the classic race at London with interest and, like many, struggled to grasp with the shock of what happened at Boston.

The excitement ahead lies with the World Championships in Moscow in less than a month – with an almost entirely fresh Kenyan squad taking the stage will they reverse their fortunes from the Olympics, or will this year’s London champ, Eithiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, give their rivals a win?

Personally I’ve just come off a 5km and half marathon PB in the last two weeks, meeting one of my New Year’s resolutions and going under 20 minutes for 5km. My focus now is on a marathon in four weeks and then my main race of the year, Melbourne Marathon in October.

Apologies for the delay and let’s get talking running!

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Increasing speed through parkrun 5km

In attempt to increase my marathon speed, I raced my first ever parkrun 5km race

In attempt to increase my marathon speed, I raced my first ever parkrun 5km race

In an attempt to increase my speed, break up monotony and get a bit more racing in than marathons allow I made the aim this year to try and go sub-20:00 for 5km. Training so far has been going great with a much more focused schedule including much more intense speed work which has been fun in itself.

The first test came for me two weekends ago when I made the decision to get a baseline and race a 5km. Despite been a runner for more than 10 years I had never really raced a 5km race, I’d done a few 4km races when I started out and a number of 10km races but largely my racing was over the longer distances.

So it was I nervously decided to register to run my first ever parkrun race – and as an event I can give it a glowing endorsement.

Formed in the UK in 2004, Parkrun is a great initiative designed to get more people into running. They are weekly 5km races, free of charge, run by volunteers and with costs covered by sponsors now held at 155 locations around the world and run regularly by more than 12,000 runners.

I attended Albert Parkrun in Melbourne and despite having never attended before was met by a friendly group of organisers and fellow runners. There was just over 150 runners in attendance and after a short warm up and event briefing, we got underway at 8am.

My Garmin battery had gone flat so I raced naked which I am sure meant that I went out way too hard, but also meant that I was limited by my perceptions. I raced pretty hard and had to hang on at the end but managed to cross the line in 21:47 – a time that I was delighted with given I had no real expectations or awareness of my current fitness levels.

park_run_harrogateParkrun record times using a barcode system where you must pre-register and receive a barcode and then when you cross the finish line you receive a second barcode that is linked to your time. Both your registration barcode and finish time barcode are scanned and then results are upload to the website within a few hours.

I’ll now race this course a few more times over the coming months on my plan to go sub-20:00, but irrespective of whether I hit that target or not I’m glad I discovered parkrun and will be making sure I stay a regular in the community. The more I race the faster I will get and hopefully that added speed will come in handy when I do my next marathon.


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My Running New Year’s Resolutions

2013Well as the clock countsdown on the final hours of 2012, I like many have sat down and thought about what I want to focus on in 2013.

In my running life I have not so much decided on resolutions as on goals that I want to achieve and I think that this is a great time of year to reflect on what was achieved in the last 12 months and what the new year may hold going forward.

2012 was a great year for me running in terms of overall consistency. I raced two marathons and made improvements between them. It was however also the year I had my most ever injuries ranging from a stress fracture through to ITB. I need to make sure 2013 is less injury prone while still maintaining my consistency in running. Where my consistency did lapse is when pressure at work increased dramatically so I also need to ensure that I develop a strategy to run when life gets crazy!

My goals are short and sweet and can be summarised as such:

  • Focus on 5km races: I’ve never really raced short distances as I always thought it was the marathon or bust. Now that I have a family and can’t commit all year round to the time needed for marathon training I’ve decided I’m going to focus on some shorter races early in the year and use it as speedwork for future endeavours. My goal is to break 20 minutes and I hope that I can do it by the end of March.
  • Run the famous City to Surf fun run: Australia’s largest fun run is based in Sydney and is called the City toSurf. It goes from Sydney’s CBD and rolls out through the suburbs, over Heartbreak Hill and finishes 14 kilometres later on one of the most beautiful locations in the world, Bondi Beach. It attracts 85,000 entrants and is THE event in Australian road running – yet I have never done it. 2013 is the year to change that.
  • I will run the 2013 Melbourne Marathon in October and my goal is to go sub 3:30.

In terms of actual running resolutions as opposed to just goal setting:

Sydney's City to Surf: one of goals for 2013

Sydney’s City to Surf: one of my goals for 2013

  • I will have a better nutrition plan and drink less Coke
  • I will do a Yoga class at least once a week to increase flexibility
  • I will make time to run at least four days a week
  • I will stretch after each run and also on days that I don’t run

And I will also make sure that my blogging becomes more regular, focussed and beneficial for both you as the reader and for me as the author.

So what are your running resolutions for 2013?

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Travelling for work: fitting in training

busrunningDue to a major incident in my work I’ve had to spend the last week away from home, living out of a suitcase in a motel. Although the work has been hard, the hours long and the focus has been on managing the incident for the business, it did also pose a challenge to me on how to get some training in.

I knew the morning before heading off that I was going to be away for the week so I was able to pack my running shoes, a few pairs of shorts and a mix of t-shirts and singlets. Work days were long with early starts so morning runs were taken out of the equation but I was able to set aside time for an evening run between leaving the workplace and meeting up with colleagues for dinner.

The one positive of the experience was that I was able to run in a completely new environment, along the coast of a small town called Warrnambool in regional Victoria.

The Warrnambool coast, a beautiful but windy training run

The Warrnambool coast, a beautiful but windy training run

It is known as the surf coast with high winds and massive surf. There is also a great paved trail that runs along the coast.

On the first day I headed out and put in six kilometres along the coast, enjoying the scenery and awestruck at the power of the waves. I was making great pace, felt very comfortable and was seriously considering a sea change – until I turned around and had to deal with a massive headwind on the return six kilometres!

I’ve managed to get a run in most days, including a hills session, and braved the hotel gym for a short strength session which was worthwhile. I’ve missed been away from my wife and daughter and work has been exhausting, but with a little bit of forethought to throw my running gear into my bag I’ve been able to maintain my training and possibly even got in more runs than normal without the pressure of the family commitments.

The long work hours though has undoubtedly impacted the quality of my training with less sleep than normal and minimal recovery time.

How do you factor in training when you have to travel?

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The solitude of running

I was reading an article online from the UAE-based Khaleej Times called ‘Long-distance runners lap up miles for the love of it’ that analysed why people run, especially marathons, and what sort of personalities are drawn to running marathons.

American sports psychologist Gregory Chertok was attributed in the article as saying ‘long-distance running seems to be appreciated by those who enjoy solitude – or periods of solitude – and are OK with monotony’. During my running life I certainly enjoy the time alone that running brings me, to either gather my thoughts, think through issues or on a really good day think of absolutely nothing at all and just get lost in the run!

It was interesting to note that a 2007 published scientific study (The psychology of the marathoner: Of one mind and many, John Raglin) seemed to contradict this ‘solitude’ approach, claiming that marathoners ‘are generally less introverted than non-athletes and possess more desirable mental health profiles, scoring lower in depression, anxiety and neuroticism, and higher in desirable variables such as emotional stability and psychic vigor’. It was also noted though the act of running marathons is not a cause of these factors, but rather that these personality traits make it more likely for these people to be pre-disposed to an attraction to the challenge of marathons.

I largely run by myself due to the fact that it gives me greater flexibility to run when I can as work or family commitments can make it hard to run only at set times. I know though for a lot people the community and comraderie from a running club is what makes the sport so enjoyable. I do enjoy the times when I get to run with my brother or a friend so can definitely see the appeal of both group running or running alone.

To run a marathon though I think does certainly take an element of selfishness in order to meet the commitment required. I know my personality type using Jung typology is very much more aligned to been an extrovert in certain settings such as work or with friends, but my preferred default personality is to be slightly introverted, not in a shy way, but more that I am comfortable with my own company.

For me, I think my personality certainly plays a part in why I run and the enjoyment that I get from not just racing but also the training and even the analysis of all the associated data such as mileage, heart rates, pace, etc.

Do you prefer to run by yourself or in a group? Do you think your personality attracts you to running?

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