Monday, 13 April 2009

Pain and Certain Death

Only a week to go to the fivemarathons party at The Press Club in Manchester. I’m delighted to confirm that the one and only Tim Hayes will be our compere for the evening. While Kirsten is off ski-ing, please contact Kyle Blackburn for tickets on 0161 909 3000 or

Chasing my shadow

This week I've sorted out some new trainers. My last pair of New Balance 1023s has finally given up, so I've had to find a replacement. Despite my best efforts, I'm just not getting along with the New Balance 1224s. You may recall that Harris and Ross' Josh Cheng had recommended my NB 1224s, based on the analysis at H&R's Wilmslow clinic. Unfortunately, I find the trainers a little uncomfortable over longer distances, which isn't ideal for marathon running. I need some stability trainers to correct the over-pronation which was revealed during my session with Josh, so Harris and Ross arranged for me to get on the treadmill at Manchester's Up And Running shop ( for some more video analysis in various trainers. I had considered some Asics Gel Kayano XVs - I bought a pair of Kayano XIIs in New York three years ago, and I loved them. Unfortunately, the video showed that they weren’t properly correcting the over-pronation. Some Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9 worked best (TEAM fivemarathons’ Martin will no doubt hate my disloyalty to New Balance). Anyway, fingers crossed for the new Brooks shoes - I'd like to get them run in and working well in time for London. With less than two weeks to go, there's not much time left for alternative arrangements, but after five training sessions, they’re shaping up well.

Up And Running

Coincidentally, Up And Running’s Ben Fish was my fellow guest on BBC Radio Manchester’s Becky Want Show on Saturday morning. Ben and I were on the show to discuss running, and give some tips on what to look for when buying new running trainers. In addition, Becky interviewed me about fivemarathons, which was a great opportunity to promote our fundraising efforts. You can listen online at or catch the programme on BBC iPlayer (http://

On Friday, I’ll be at The Endurance Coach’s clinic ( for various tests and exercises aimed at improving my performance. Based on the results of those tests, my coach, Marc Laithwaite, will be better able to plan my training regime for the remaining marathons. The main indicator will be the VO2 max test to accurately determine my cardiovascular fitness. VO2 max (V = volume per time, O2 = Oxygen, max = maximum), also known as maximal oxygen uptake or aerobic capacity, is the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and utilise oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual. My test at The Endurance Coach will involve me running progressively harder on a treadmill (to fully tax my aerobic energy system), while Laith measures my breathing and the oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air. VO2 max is reached when my oxygen consumption remains at a steady rate despite the increased workload. The higher my VO2 max, the fitter I am. I’m actually nervous to find out the result. Knowing Laith, it will probably show that I’m technically dead.

The American middle and long distance runner, Steve Prefontaine, once said "Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts". Marathon running certainly takes guts, not least between miles 20 and 26. While preparing for the London Marathon 2004, I was advised to write on my palms the name of somebody who would be proud to see me complete the distance. When you get to 20 miles, and it’s starting to hurt, seeing the name of your loved one will hopefully inspire you to keep moving, and run through the pain. During the New York Marathon in 2004, I ran in gloves, keeping my hands covered for the first 3 hours of the race. At 21 miles, the gloves came off, and I managed to grit my teeth and grind out the last few miles. In each of my races, I have had "Moll" written on my palms.

When I was young, my brother, sister and I used to really look forward to visits from my Uncle Son, my Dad's elder brother. He was a larger than life character who was great fun, especially when it came to fooling around with us kids. He'd sit us on his knee and present two clenched fists, explaining that one was "Pain" and the other was "Certain Death". This inevitably preceded a mock fight, which would have him losing in dramatically comedic fashion. Throughout my life, Uncle Son took a keen interest in my hobbies and, often limited, achievements. He encouraged my running by accompanying me to my local running track and setting off with me for a 400 metre lap. He undoubtedly still holds the track record for the slowest ever lap, but the fact that he was there, running with me, meant everything. Sadly, Uncle Son passed away last year, but I know he'd have supported me throughout the fivemarathons. In London, which would have been his home marathon, I'll have "Pain" and "Certain Death" written on the inside of my fists. Thanks for everything Uncle Son. This one's for you.

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009

This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 13 April 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 14 April 2009 6 miles easy
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 6 miles, incl 8 x 1 mins fast, 1 min slow
Thursday, 16 April 2009 5 miles steady
Friday, 17 April 2009 Rest
Saturday, 18 April 2009 Warm up, then 3 miles at marathon pace, timed, then warm down
Sunday, 19 April 2009 10 miles steady

Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see

Sign the Manchester Evening News' petition at:

Visit us at

Join the Facebook fivemarathons group

Come to the fivemarathons "Road to London" party on 21 April 2009 at The Press Club, 2-10 St. Johns House, Queen Street, Manchester, M2 5JB.

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004