Virgin London Marathon


InBalance athlete Issy completed her first marathon at London in 4h 16m and loved the experience so much that she has entered the ballot for 2020!!

Issy came to InBalance in November and asked for some help with her training. She had completed a half marathon distance race previously and had a good base of fitness being a regular at the gym.

We developed a training plan around her work and lifestyle and she had a good block of training throughout the New Year and early Spring, slowly increasing the mileage and building endurance. Issy stuck to the plan and did not overtrain and consequently suffered no injury setbacks……….consistency is key.

InBalance also helped with nutrition advice and equipment choice to make sure Issy was as prepared as possible for her race and by the look of the smile on her face, I think we got it right!!

Training For Trail Marathon / Ultra

Welcome to this blog where you can follow my progress as I prepare myself to compete in ultra trail races. The goal is to be able to register for the Ultra – Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) in 2020. The race I am targeting is the 101 Km CCC race (about 6,100 m height gain) which starts in Courmayeur, Italy, enters Switzerland and finishes in Chamonix, France.

On a 32 km training run along the Mortimer Trail, UK

These posts will outline my training, equipment choices and reports on the qualifying races. I intend to start the campaign with two trail marathons in the spring / summer to acclimatise myself and increase the distance to two 55 mile ultras during the autumn / winter. The first marathon is the Winchcome Cross Trail Marathon in Gloucestershire and this will be followed in July with the Snowdon Trail Marathon in Snowdonia. In September I head to Devon for the Inov8 Exmoor Ultra and finally the Brecon Beacons Ultra in November.

A little bit about myself. I am just your average guy in his mid-50s and a father of two daughters with the usual hectic work / lifestyle balance. I run a coaching business alongside managing a flock of sheep. I keep myself relatively fit and have competed in various longer distance endurance events over the years, so have a relatively good base layer of fitness. 


I am a great believer in strength and conditioning and do 2 x 1 hour sessions a week. If I need to drop a training session due to work / family commitments, I will always prioritise my S&C sessions. Core strength is so important for injury prevention. 

I complete two run sessions a week a short tempo run and a long endurance run. The distances slowly increase as the weeks go by and I try to keep to trails. The short  tempo run I work hard but the long run is always aerobic and easy. The majority of my long runs are between 8 – 14 miles with a couple of longer ones in a 10 week period. The risk of injury increases as the mileage increases so I am careful not to hammer my legs. I try to replicate the terrain of the race so for the Snowdon Trail marathon my long training runs will take me  to the Brecon Beacons to acclimatise to the long ascents and technical descents. 

I try to swim twice a week (I am swimming the Dart 10 Km in September) and I sometimes change one of my run sessions and get on the bike instead, to save my legs.

Being consistent with your training with no down-time due to injury is so important and  I spent time during the winter creating a good base fitness through strength and conditioning while slowly increasing the mileage of my training runs. The only setback I’ve had was when my lower back went into spasm but this was not due to running but spending a month lambing my flock of ewes! I managed to get the back treated quickly and only missed 5 days training.

I have at least one rest day per week and try to get 7 – 8 hours sleep  a night. I listened to a podcast recently and it mentioned that muscles get stronger when at rest and recovering; they are weak when under stress during exercise… true.


I have been a fan of Hoka run shoes and they have served me well up to half marathon distance, however, beyond that distance the soles of my feet would become painful. I have a wide foot and been aware that the shoes were a snug fit and realised I would need to get a wider fitting shoe if my feet were going to be comfortable over longer distances. I am using Brooks trail shoes with their wider toe box and my feet are now fine.

I decided to invest in a running vest and after some research went for the Inov8 Race Ultra Pro 2-in-1. I’ve been really impressed with it. Very comfortable to wear, light, lots of pockets to store kit, does not move around and the position of the water bottles are perfect.

Brooks Cascadia 13 trail shoes, Inov8 Race Ultra Pro 2in1 Vest and Tailwind All-In-One Race Nutrition.

Nutrition and hydration is also important for long endurance races and over the years I have used many different brands of energy drinks and gels but have reservations about whether I could consume these over a long period of time like the CCC. Recently I was introduced to Tailwind, a non sticky, all-in-one race nutrition powder that you mix with water. It tastes delicious, is easy on the stomach and you can use it as your sole fuel source over distances such as ultras. I will report back after a couple of races but on my 20 mile training run the powder did the job and I felt comfortable and recovered well. I think I will still take something solid that I can eat every 4 hours as a treat but I believe this powder is all the you require.

The Winchcombe Cross marathon is a couple of weeks away and I will post a report shortly after the race.


If you have any questions or would like help with your training, contact (

“The Monthly Cycle”


It was highlighted at the @trainingpeaks Endurance Summit in Manchester, UK in Nov 2018 that as male coaches coaching female athletes we would benefit from having a better understanding of the ‘monthly cycle’ and through conversation and feedback adjust the training of these athletes to suit. Some great podcasts recently on the subject @oxygenaddicttriathlon podcast No 193 “Blood, Sweat and Gears” and No 218 “Menopause Special”. Also @ctgprojecthq Way of Champions podcast No 102 “Is there a difference between coaching Girls and Coaching Boys”. My better understanding has certainly benefited my athletes, including the juniors I coach.

Strength and Conditioning


A topic close to my heart! For years I have been promoting S&C to athletes I work with but never really incorporated  it into my own training.

This changed a couple of years ago when I was fed up picking up niggling injuries which hampered my training, preventing consistency, so important in achieving results. I began to include 2 x 1 hour S&C sessions in my weekly training programme and the benefits were quick to show. I began to feel stronger and my form did not deteriorate as I became tired towards the end of a session due to muscle fatigue. and more importantly I stayed injury free.

I include S&C sessions in all my athletes’ training programmes, throughout the year, to help them get stronger, prevent injury thereby allowing consistent blocks of training to be completed. I hear many amateur athletes say they are unable to fit strength sessions to their already busy schedule but I would advocate that strength sessions should be prioritised. A structured strength programme can improve areas of weakness which are prone to injury  and make the muscle group stronger. 

Training Peaks University and Endurance Summit – Manchester, UK – November 2018

Joe Friel at the Training Peaks University
Joe Friel at the Training Peaks University

An amazing 4 days spent in Manchester sharing knowledge and learning loads from the likes of legendary endurance coach Joe Friel and 4 x World Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington. 47 coaches attended the University and 170 people from 30 countries, the Endurance Summit. Talks about all aspects of endurance sport were given by speakers who were all experts in their field.

Chrissie Wellington opening the Endurance Summit
Chrissie Wellington opening the Endurance Summit