Marathon Training Benchmark

Having done a few of these before, I am very away of how the structured marathon training changes you physically over time. During the summer I have put on a little weight as I had to ease up from running because of a tendon injury. I forgot to adjust the diet and just kept eating, not so clever. However because of this I am expecting the training to have a very noticeable effect. I will save you from the usual before and after photos (unless someone sponsors me loads) and just give core data as a benchmark.

Current Fitness Level 29th Oct 2017 – mostly taken from Garmin 235 data.

Average Resting Heart Rate (over 7 days): 62 bpm

Weight: 208.6 lbs (Nov 2016 I was 189, that’s the effect of not running and continuing to eat the same)

Waist size: 38 1/2 inches

10k Time: 51(ish) as I was running with dog (PB was this year 44.41 on 26th Feb 2017)

VO2 Max: 46 (Feb this year I have been at 52, so quite a bit of a drop in fitness)

Let’s see what happens over the next 5 1/2 months.


What I Think About When I Run

People often ask what i think about when i am running. It is often closely followed by, “don’t you get really bored”. I am a thinker, a prayer and a dyslexic. Often my thinking and praying get stuck. But when I run, everthing clears again. So i thought I might just jot down some of the things I think and pray about when I run… “what I think about when I run”.

10k, 44:41(PB), Sunday evening.

    • Is today a PB for my 10k.
    • The man who drowned in the harbour.
    • Prayed for LB as I have not seen her in church for ages.
    • J who said this week he “experienced” the bible for the first time.
    • Vision is like running, big plans but still only happens one step at a time.
    • Torquay homeless.
    • Turning the church into a shelter and set of business units.
    • Electronic filing (yes dull).
    • Sleepy Torquay.
    • Churches working together, reminded of the three streams picture.

    A Day in the life of a Vicar….

    Since my sabbatical in 2015 I have tried to live a work differently. Two full days off a week and a starting point of forty hours a week. One of the days off is creativity focused and the other just resting. I find this kind of pace means that I can be fully engaged in both my family life and working life. But I still often get asked, “so what do you vicars do during the week”. So I thought I would give a snapshot of what has be a busy day.
    5.45am I get woken up by our barking chocolate lab who has decide she wants a to go out. In my experience she should not be ignored other wise the consequences can be messy. I watch her in the garden and stare at the coffee machine. Expresso wins and so to work on the summer rota – yes I am a bit behind as it is July.

    7.30am Rota finished and emailed to the 25 people who will be helping to make Sunday’s happen over the summer. Few more emails sent to try and start the the day as clear as possible. Updated a new webpage that a number of the team are working on.

    7.45am Made tea for Meg and woke up the kids up late. Usual family prep for the day, all hands on deck.

    8.15am Bit of work on family accounts as trying to be better with budgeting.

    8.30am Running shoes on. We leave the house a bit late with one 10 year old on scooter and two dogs. School drop. 6.5 miles later and very tired dogs, my run it complete. Prayed for for a few other churches and leaders on the way (Ian – Rivera Life, John St Matthias) as well as stopping to talk to a couple of people from church on the way round.

    9.30 Finish getting ready for the day and called a company to chase delivery of new church doors.

    10am Time with two leaders at St Mags, looking at an outreach project and a way to review another key part of church life – small groups. Important leadership lessons on the way.

    11.30 (35 as I was late) Coffee in Neros with another key leader for supervision and coaching. Asked at iPhone repair shop if they could fix sons phone that was run over by a car yesterday.

    12.45pm Back to church to fix my dyslexic error on the poster for Sunday. Tried to find old keys for two doors at church – nope, they are lost.

    1.30pm Grabbed lunch and ensured backup happened on computer that is starting to run slow.

    2pm Funeral visit. What a privilege to hear the story of a couple who found love again in later life. These are sacred moments. Stayed an extra half hour as it was so precious.

    3.45pm To town to get iPhone fixed. On the way stop to chat to a friend of St Mags about the painful stuff of life. Spent five mins with a guy that is high and scared. Talked to a girl in her early twenties who has recently come to faith and is struggling to make drug free friends. Chatted in passing to one of the guys who was baptised last year and is busking. Back to phone…. First shop unhelpful, second sorted. Coffee and planning at Costa while they get it fixed. Pinging church administrator on Trello (who should not be responding to messages as she is not working this afternoon) re current projects, funeral, wedding and new church bank account. Also exchanging so texts and returning some calls from people growing in faith. Bumped into Meg and the kids. Back past church, someone is asleep round the side. Try to wake him up, he is off his face with his big dog on guard. He wakes eventually and we have a good chat. I leave him there as he is alive and does not seem to been in danger or a danger to others. Sleep is prob the best option.

    5pm Delivered fixed phone to son – he was sort of grateful (joy of being Dad)

    5.25pm Few more texts and asked one of the Mags team to take the lead tomorrow night.

    5.30pm Drove to Exeter for a meeting on a difficult subject but in very good company. Amazingly I am ten mins early. Just about managed to behave with three Bishops and an Archdeacon in the room. Good food and then heavy focused conversation. Finish at 8.45, very drained but it was healthy and life giving.

    9.30 Back in Torquay, few texts and emails. Called Mum and Dad to check they are alright – they are carrying so big stuff very graciously.

    10pm Sofa and decide to write day in life of a Vicar – Gin and Tonic.

    Marathon Double, Brighton and London 2016

    At some point in the past this seemed like a good idea. But now I have to move from idea to reality. Bags are packed. Training done. Just got to complete 26.2 miles… twice in 8 days! But how did I get here?

    This will be my fourth and fifth marathons (2008/12/15). I had entered the ballot for the London Marathon 2016 but did not get in. Disappointed but still determined to run in 2016 I secured a place in the Brighton Marathon. A few weeks later I got the offer of running for Exeter Cathedral in the London Marathon. A choice needed to be made, which one to do? Then I had this idea. What if I did both. Brighton for The Living Room, the community Cafe that is run by St Mags (the Church I lead). London for Exeter Cathedral, the city that I grew up in the Mother Church for Devon. Double Marathon for churches old and new. So I said yes to both.

    Each person runs for different reason, for me it is often a way to process anger prayerfully. This is why I run. 

    The charities I am running for are very close to my heart.

    The Living Room is five years old this month. We give coffee, cake and bacon baps to anyone who needs it for no charge. We welcome in people from every walk of life and are seeing many people find faith and turn their lives around. It is also run by St Mags the church that I lead in Torquay.  


    The Living Room Chistmas dinner in a bap, 

    The Cathedral
    is the mother church for the place a work – Church of England in Devon. I grew up around this place, spend   far to many evenings the worst for wears on the green. But I was always engaging with conversations of faith and the presence of such a great building inspired me. It is over 900 years old and in need of a bit of TLC. The community is also deeply engage in caring for people the town centre and my Mum and Dad are also not part of this lively Christian community. 


    Me at the Cathedral with Dad on the day he became a Cathedral Canon

    You can support me in the following ways:

    1. Like this post (or comment) this will encourage me loads (yes this is an occasion to be that shallow)

    2. Donate to one of the causes below (you are a hero!)

    3. Donate to both of the causes below (you are a super hero and you have my permission to make a special costume and wear it in public just because you can!)

    Marathon one: Brighton 17th of April for The Living Room, the community cafe that is run in my church. We have 80-100 people in each day we open, give away the coffee and bacon baps and make no charge…

    Marathon two: London 24th April for Exeter Cathedral. It has been open for over 900 years and with your help it will be there in another 900…

    Thanks Loads, Mark


    Always Stop and Remove the Stones

    Running by the sea is one of the best things about living on the coast. Every time your out the landscape is completely different. Not only are legs engaged, but mind, emotions and soul are revitalised by the ever changing vista. The downside of all this beauty is all the stones and grit that you can collect in your shoes. Most of the time it is not an issue but occasionally the smallest fragment makes it to a place of irritation.

    As I ran yesterday that is exactly what happened. It had been a perfect day, sun bright, but not too hot. Yet with waves crashing on the incoming tide. The sunlight through the breaking waves was magical, as if each one for a moment had been frozen in liquid metal. The glory of the day and the fact that I was running on yesterdays legs meant that I ignored the fragment of gravel that was working its way round to my heal. I must have picked it up on the promenade from the sand thrown up in last weeks storm. Six miles later as I pushed on, trying to keep my pace, I knew I had made a simple error.

    Every time I come back from a run, or any activity, I want to know what I could have done differently. While I am no reader, I am an avid learner. The lesson from that day was simple, “always stop and remove the stones”.

    The same is true in life. We put up with so many minor irritation’s. Maybe not aware of the damage being caused down the line. We get used to second screens and overtime, minor ailments in our bodies that with a little focus will not need surgery. We put up with unresolved conflicts that with time to listen could be stopped from becoming a marriage break down.  Simply taking time to stop and reflect on the stones of life that have begun to cause us irritation might mean that we choose to remove them.

    As in life so in leadership. So often we see the problem clearly. But we are going at such a pace that we don’t want to stop and deal with the issue. Anyway, if we did it might cause someone to get upset, that unwritten rule of pastoral leadership, “no one is allowed to be unhappy”. What is now a minor irritant will in the future be the blister that causes enough pain to stop us in our tracks. I hope I can become more sensitive to the grit when running and attentive to the issues in life and leadership. Note to self: always stop and remove the stone.

    Running on Yesterdays Legs

    Part of my training for completing two marathons just a week apart is to learn how to run on tired legs. Typically this involves doing my weekly long run and then the following day, within 24 hours were possible, a tempo run at marathon pace. The total distance for the two covers the full 26.2 miles. After almost three months I am not sure I am used to it yet. Running on yesterdays legs really hurts.

    In all three of my previous marathons I have hit the wall. Your running along quite happily, at your planned pace and then suddenly the tanks are empty. It is as if the legs have just decided, “no more running for us, it’s time to stop”. There can be many causes. During my first marathon in London in 2008 I simply set of way too fast, at mile nine I crashed into the wall but by mile seventeen I was back. There are elements of nutrition, anaerobic fitness and endurance. The biggest battle is in the mind. Learning to push through, to keep going even though everything in you is screaming at you to stop. This is the challenge for me especially now I am facing the marathon double.

    This is why running on yesterdays legs has become such an important part of my training. I want to learn how to keep on going so that when I put it all together on race day I can run at a consistent pace. Going out again and again on legs that are tired, stiff and really don’t want to move seems to be the best training for being able to keep on going on the day.

    Pushing through that pain is a normal part of the training but one that only happens a few times a week. In fact although I now run everyday, a minimum of one mile, I only train three times a week. On all the other days I rest. This is probably as important if not more important than the training. Our bodies need time to recover, to repair and to grow. This can’t happen if we just hammer them all the time.

    I am hoping that the benefit of this training and the pain of running on yesterdays legs will pay off with a consistent and improved time for this years marathon double.

    ++++++++Support me if you can+++++++++

    You can support me in the following ways:

    1. Like this post (or comment) and any others that I put up over the next month – this will encourage me loads (yes this is an occasion to be that shallow)

    2. Donate to one of the causes below (you are a hero!)

    3. Donate to both of the causes below (you are a super hero and you have my permission to make a special costume and wear it in public just because you can!)

    Marathon one: Brighton 17th of April for The Living Room, the community cafe that is run in my church. We have 80-100 people in each day we open, give away the coffee and bacon baps and make no charge… Brighton Marathon

    Marathon two: London 24th April for Exeter Cathedral. It has been open for over 900 years and with your help it will be there in another 900… London Marathon

    Thanks Loads, Mark

    Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 17.03.08