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Marathon Spotlight

Kyle has represented GB at running at a World Championships. He is a multiple national champion, was 3rd at the British 100km championships and consistently finishes in the top 5 at Ultra World Tour events. Kyle has a pedigree of performing highly at a range of distances from 5km to marathon and a lot longer, and has PB’s, including: 30 minutes (10k), 68 minutes (Half Marathon) and 2.25 (Marathon).

He is a Running Coach, Race Organiser for the Moray Way Ultra Series and co-host of the highly popular podcast, Tartan Running Shorts and has recently just started a new role as Fundraising Manager at Athletics Trust Scotland.

Favourite marathon and why?
Well…I have only ran in 2 locations and they are both completely different from each other. It has to be London Marathon for 2 reasons; the support from the spectators truly is outstanding (accompanied by sore legs, I’m sure I had tinnitus for a few days post-race) and the course is sooo quick if you are with a good pack of runners.

Worst marathon memory and why?
Again, it has to be London Marathon of last year…After getting my first Great Britain call up, I went into the race thinking I was fit enough to run a low 2 hours 20 minutes. However, I ran a 50km race only 6 weeks before that as part of the trial for the World Ultra Trail Championships and convinced myself that I could still perform well by squeezing in specific marathon training within 3 weeks (minus recovery from the 50km and taper pre marathon).

I reached the half marathon point around the 71 minutes 30 seconds mark, which was exactly what I wanted and then at the 17 mile mark….’BOOM’ the wheels came off! I went from averaging 5.28 minute per mile to 5.55 minute miles to 6.20 minute miles in the last couple of miles…eventually waddling home in 2 hours 29 minutes and 55 seconds.

Although it was a disaster, I learnt so many lessons about my marathon build and the need to be realistic in the goals that I set. On reflection, if I was to run a little more conservative that day, I’m convinced I would have been able to get a small PB as I had the endurance but simply wasn’t able to cope with the initial pace/speed in the first half of my race and that would have been due to the long slightly slower paced runs I was doing…

What tips would you give on constructing a training plan?
I am incredibly lucky to have an incredibly knowledgeable coach, Lewis Walker, who I have been with for around 5 years now. In a nutshell, he has taken my times from 33 minutes to 30 minutes in a 10k, 78 minutes to 68 minutes for a half marathon and to winning my first senior national title at the Scottish Trail championships, a GB vest and coming 26th at the World Championships and 1st Brit home…something I never thought was possible a few years ago.

So…in terms of training, I don’t have any specific ‘go to’ resource but I think you should consider and try out what works for you – that might mean taking snippets from different resources – trying them out and if it doesn’t work for you – try something else. There are so many disciplines in running and each one will mean that your training or training methods will differ whether you are training to complete your first 5km or attempt a PB on your 5th marathon.

That being said, every good training method/programme should always have consistency, decent volume, active recovery and be goal specific. These 4 factors have definitely brought out the best in me.

The major improvements I mentioned came from running 30 miles per week and bumping this up to and consistently running 60 to 90 miles per week. I ease off when I need to and keep my key sessions relative to the distance I was training for.

Funniest Training Moment?
I always end up getting lost on runs. This used to be funny but nobody laughs anymore as I do it so often. Thankfully, I have a Suunto Spartan watch that tells me where to go or how to get back to the start. Anyways, whilst being lost and out on a long run I decided to take a short cut through a field full of cows. I straddled the fence and unbeknown to me I started getting some fairly unpleasant electric shocks in the genital region and ended up looking like a bucking cowboy! It wasn’t funny at the time as it was bloody painful, but it’s funny on reflection.

If you were to give away a running hack what would it be?
• If training for a half or marathon distance, try out a 20 to 60 minute easy run whilst fasted in the morning to train your body to utilize the energy systems more efficiently.
• Do short hill sprints once or twice per week if you don’t do much strength work in the gym.
• If you are going out for a long run and have no friends like me then listen to a running podcast – like Tartan Running Shorts!

Hydration & Nutrition snack of choice on long runs?
I use Active Root powder and the Gel Mix tubs – all flavours are superb! In addition to hangovers, I use them when doing long runs or session days (especially when it’s warm) and drink water either from a bottle or fresh from a mountain stream avoiding sheep shite and dead animals… After a long run, there is nothing better than a nice cold beer.

Shoes – minimal or maximal?
I am a bit of a running shoe whore hoarder so I use both minimal and maximal! Probably a mix really!

Most of my runs are on trails so I will wear a trail neutral shoe such as the Salomon Sense Ride, which has some minimal and maximal features.

When I’m racing and doing a hard/fast session, I like to wear a light and minimal shoe. I used to wear minimal shoes all the time but started getting a lot of Achilles pain so I always try to run my easy runs in either a trail or cushioned neutral road shoe. I have been using carbon shoes lately but I feel it's important to run using the strength of your foot and not just rely on the support/recoil from a carbon shoe.

What is your Mantra a) when running b) when coaching c) Life
I don’t really use Mantras (I just go out and run so maybe a Forest Gump Mantra would fit the bill for me!) but if I did it is probably something simple like ‘Train Hard, Win Easy’ or ‘Dinnae Fash Yerself’

Terrain – trail, track or tarmac?
TRAILS!!! If you don’t run on your trails…you’re missing out bigtime! I do run on road as well but only if I have to – especially if training for a road race. I also try get on the track to work on my speed and pacing.


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