Monday, 20 April 2009

Porridge & Paperazzi

For those with the Marathon on their mind, in the immortal words of 80’s soft rock legends Europe ‘It’s the final countdown’, your big 26mile day is almost with you, and you may find yourself humming the Martine McCutcheon classic ‘Perfect Moment’ or indeed you may already be visualising the finish and doing a Blue Peter with a mildly smug ‘and here is one we made earlier’…

At LGN we are proud of our not so subtle linking prose, but while you eat porridge like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and covertly rub Vaseline, it should also be noted that the London Marathon also provides a unique opportunity to share exactly the same experience as many faces from MTV or Heat magazine.

Because on marathon day there is no VIP room, their experience is fundamentally the same as yours, 26miles of London’s finest tarmac.

In addition, while you may be running for personal health and or for a charity close to your heart, spare a thought for the modern day celebrity, possibly coerced into unfamiliar physical pain by an unrelenting PR or managing agent. Just take a moment to consider their task, months of training in conjunction with valiant attempts to appear on iconic TV shows such as Loose Women et al, just for the possibility of being able to smile for 30 seconds while benefiting from the interview with Sally Gunnell at Tower Bridge.

Therefore the LGN top tip this month, is to externalise your own physical discomfort via acknowledging the suffering of a running celebrity nearby, because for 2009 the event is festooned with a plethora of ‘TV personalities’ hunting for Sally’s microphone.

To help you in your quest, we at LGN have listed some of those in the real race for airtime by the anticipated finishing times, so if their times match yours, do your research, look for the entourage, engage in gossip and show them a clean pair of heels.

Great hurdler and great BBC interviewer

3 hours – 3.45
You are skipping along and all of sudden the dream chance to request a Blue Peter badge and more becomes a reality.

Helen Skelton
New addition to the Blue Peter team, has WAG credentials has an anticipated time of a non too shabby 3 hours.

Nell McAndrew
This Yorkshire lady is hoping to break 3.30, but may be undone due to her much renowned weakness for blueberry muffins.

Chris Boardman
An opportunity to ‘get in the hurt box’ with one of the classic hard man of cycling and one of only a few Brits to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey. Chris is aiming for 3.40

No wheels allowed on 26th April Chris

Tony Pulis
No nonsense Stoke City manager, trying to keep his team in the premiership and his time under the magic 3.45

Matthew Macfadyen
Spooks star Macfadyen is effort is no M15 secret & is aiming for 3.45

Gordon Ramsay
"I was 17 stone and needed to get in shape," he was reported in the Telegraph as saying. Aiming to gently bring himself to a simmer in under 3.45

4 – 5 hours
This tempo is rich pickings for celeb hunters, from Kate Lawler, Ronan and even the ‘Reverse Pterodactyl’ impersonator Lee McQueen, the London Marathon has the lot.

Ronan Keating
Engage him with lively banter at 20 miles and he may remind you of the lyrics to his no.1 1999 hit single ‘when you say nothing at all’…. Going for a cool 3.59

Ronan in the 2008 FLM making a new friend – this could be you…

Jenni Falconer
GMTV presenter Falconer is hoping to get under the magic 4 hours

Lee McQueen
Last year's Apprentice winner has been training since February with old-school underground garage tunes and will probably be hoping 'Surallan' appreciates his 4 hour work ethic.

Isobel Lang
Expect showers... of attention, Sky’s weathergirl is aiming for 4.30

Kate Lawler
Big Brother star has London Marathon experience and hoping for 4.50

5hours +
There are benefits of being out running for over 5 hours, to keep you company how about Jonathan Pearce or Jordan the choice is yours...

Jonathan Pearce
Unlikely to be at his commentating best, lest we forget his classic Euro '96 'Ready-Steady-Teddy!' as England beat Holland – 5hours is the target

Katie Price (Jordan)
Running as a duo with pop star hubby Pete and aiming for 5 hours

Running as a couple is good time to talk, oh wearing headphones…

Good luck from all the team at LGN, we hope you have a great marathon day and look forward to seeing and hearing from you on the other side.

Friday, 3 April 2009

The aggregation of marginal gains

‘You what?!’ we possibly hear you cry.

Well ok, so we at LGN may well have purely studied for various sports science qualifications which ordinarily would not give us the clout to string such long words together in a rather catchy phrase, however, as we love sport we have passionately followed British Cycling with glee in recent years culminating in the 7 out of 10 Gold medals at the Beijing Olympics and that term ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ just kept popping up.

Indeed when David Brailsford the GB team’s Performance Director was asked what the secret to the success of the team was, the answer was clear; there was no one secret, sure they had some very fancy carbon bikes and kit which nabbed the headlines, but in essence it was all about meticulous attention to detail that made the overall difference. In essence it was the focus given to the hundreds of tiny things that when brought together created the success of the whole.

Chris Hoy, big thighs + aggregation of marginal gains = Gold & hot date with Queen

As Brailsford explains “Taking the one percent from everything you do. That’s what we try to do from the mechanics upwards; if a mechanic sticks a tyre on, and someone comes along and says it could be done better, it’s not an insult – it’s because we are always striving for improvement, for those one
percent gains, in absolutely every single thing we do.”

While many captains of industry have been throwing away their grand blue sky thinking of risk all to gain all strategies and instead inviting Mr. Brailsford round for dinner…… we as runners could and possibly should apply this same philosophy whatever our respective goals.

The micro as opposed to macro approach clearly crosses into learned experience that LGN would normally extol, especially at this time of year to the Spring Marathon brigade.

LGN’s aggregation of marginal gains; a runner’s translation;

LGN Maginal Gain #1
Sleep is essential for recovery process, instead of macro approach and one night trying to go to bed before you wake up… instead try routine of going to bed 15 minutes early every night and thus over each week gain almost 2 hours

LGN Marginal Gain #2
Think quality of running not quantity, often easier to keep plodding along to schedule without challenging how you feel, be brave, have days off when required and then invest renewed energy in the next session

LGN Marginal Gain #3
As weather gets milder don’t think hydration means drinking gallons of water prior to a long run, think about it days before and consider taking on extra essential electrolytes

LGN Marginal Gain #4
Marathon runners, consider using a Sunday run to mimic big day race conditions, get up at c.5am, practice eating porridge this early, practice nibbling on pre-race snacks prior to run and ensure that 26th April et al logistics do not throw you off your running rhythm

LGN Marginal Gain #5
Running shoes past their best? Calculate approximate mileage and get new shoes before the 500 mile mark or if just older than 2 years, mid sole and cushioning degrade over time and the last thing you want is a niggly injury being the motivation to open wallet

LGN Marginal Gain #6
What ‘fuel’ are you putting in your body? Carbohydrates are important, but quality of carbohydrate is equally vital, check labels and invest in high octane healthier options

LGN Marginal Gain #7
Change running route, get out of a possible running rut and aim to stimulate the mind to stimulate the body by looking at new scenery

LGN Marginal Gain #8
For those aiming for 26 miles in April, check fueling strategy, your glycogen store (petrol tank) is limited, have a race day plan to pre-empt and not react to energy needs

LGN Marginal Gain #9
Toe nails, cut them early well in advance of any race, last thing you need especially if endurance related is tender toes as feet naturally expand in race

LGN Marginal Gain #10
Make sure majority of your running is enjoyable, happy running often equates to good running, run with friends, run with music or take a train to run in a new environment, but keep it smiling to keep improving

Now that Spring is officially sprung, we at LGN wish you a new fantastic running season and hope that you can find your own additional marginal gains to ensure you get the most from every running stride.

Happy running!

Do a runner with LGN