Member of the Month

Congratulations to Windsor Wool for winning this month's award!

Our winners receive £60 to spend with our sponsor, Red Venom, suppliers of compression gear at a third of the price of other retailers. They've also given us a special discount code - use RVFE10 at checkout for 10% off :-)

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pedroscalls asks: Congratulations on your MoTM win. My question is if money and time were no object what route or race would you really want to do?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks Pedro, I appreciate that.

A bit slushy but some of the most memorable mornings have been round Black Park parkrun with my Dad. You can't beat those and answering this question makes me realise that I need to invest more time (if not money) to capture those memories as many times as we can in the future.
jdarun asks: Congratulations on the sub-3! What took you so long? :-)

Windsor Wool says: Thanks JDA and thanks for the introduction to the the JD books, it's made quite a difference on the way I train so I suppose I could say that I was simply waiting for you to come along!

In reality I've attempted to run sub3 4 times (Oct15, Apr16, Apr17, Oct17) so when you look at it like that it wasn't really such a tortured journey. Of course being me there is a back-story though. I ran my 1st mara in 3:23 at London in 2010. It was a crap conversion (I was a 38 min 10k runner by then) and so I went to Amsterdam in the October and ran 3:14. Honestly, I thought that was about the limit of my abilities and didn't think about running a marathon again for a couple of years. At the time I was really influenced by goings on at my club and it felt like only really fast guys went sub3. I wasn't in that class and so I was done. The reality is that my club mates don't put in the 'right' training for the marathon and hence have crap conversions.

Importantly, with an arbitrary time target broken I do feel like I can now go faster. I hope it's going to be a bit like the sub 85 HM for me - I tried what felt like endless times to do that and now I wouldn't really worry about that barrier on the start line. See you in Manchester....
Ness asks: Congratulations on MoTM and your sub 3 achievement. My question is... What is your top tip for aiding post marathon recovery?

Windsor Wool says: thanks Ness and for taking the time to pose a question.

I'm crap at post recovery in all honesty, I'm usually hankering too much for a pint and a pizza or something to do anything sensible. Something I seem to do without exception is have a good old beef - I suppose that just goes to show how hard marathons are on the emotions as well as the legs!!
westmoors asks: Well done WW. Who would you most like to meet and why?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks WM, being nominated was a real surprise!

I'll admit that I don't crave meeting celebs or politicians too much although I do still get a bit starstruck whenever I bump in to Nick Faldo locally. I do love Nick....

Anyway, to your question. Meeting the folks from the 3:15 thread is something that I really like to do. We chat so much, often getting in to quite heated and / or personally revealing debates and it's so good to meet the villains in the flesh. Having met the likes of BR, PtB, LL, Stoo, Gus, Fergus, MrD, RFJ, dan, FF and others has made the interaction all the better. So, there are a bunch more to meet, many more but there are a number of the 'older faces' that have so far been elusive that I'd like to buy a pint somewhere along the way sooner or later: Luna, G, Baz look out!
Neilio asks: Well done WW. Red sauce or brown?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks N.

Red, always. Sausages, white bun, butter too....

Oh man, it feels good just typing it.
James74 asks: Deserved MotM - Which is your favorite route to run?

Windsor Wool says: thanks James - given my answer to Lou's question I hope you don't mind me popping in to the 2:45 thread from time-to-time?!

You know what, I just love running. Only yesterday I ran what must be a lovely route over Ranmore Common down in the Surrey Hills, that was great but I don't remember too much of it in all honesty. My head just seems to go off somewhere else and I could be running anywhere. So, I'll run anywhere. Scenery is a bit lost on me!!

If you're in my locale I'll plot you a route though. I wouldn't offer to run with you these days. In fact, I often chuckle to myself when I think that I gave YOU advice on the sub 85 HM thread!!


B Rubble asks: Well deserved MotM WW. Worth it just for the blog. When did you really know the sub 3 was going to happen. 1 year/month/week/day, at 10/16/20/23/26 miles?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks BR, you've been so encouraging to me over the years - remember VLM12 when you tried to keep my head in the game - that's it's nice to finally get my mara time alongside yours.

I think you know that I'd never be confident enough to think that I could do it right until the end. There was something about the run at Abingdon though where it felt different to times before and as early as 18 miles I started to really believe I might do it this time. We both know that a lot can go wrong in that last hour though and I managed to put the to one side for quite a while. By 23 I was pretty confident though and I was pretty emotional for the last couple of miles. I blame that for the slowdown (or perhaps it was the crippling cramp?).
Oscar the grouch asks: WE - was it the (alleged) 4% in the shoes or the 4% in the head that tipped the balance?

Windsor Wool says: thanks Oscar - so sorry to have missed you at Abo. Next time!

The shoes are amazing, put some on your birthday or Xmas list. I can't recommend them enough. Did they make the difference on the day? We'll never know but while conditions on the day were tough they did make it a different mental approach to any marathon I'd run before. It was more tactical, like a proper race, getting in to groups, hiding from the wind, keeping folks together. Perhaps that took the mind off the pace and the real job at hand which was just to grind out as many 6:45s as I could.

Who knows. I defo wasn't more confident on the start-line, I am always a nervous wreck. The shoes are in the cupboard for the next marathon though :-)
RFJ asks: Well done WW - awesome achievement in getting your long awaited sub3, fantastic. So being honest, what was the first thought and words from your head and mouth crossing the line at Abingdon?


Windsor Wool says: thanks RFJ - you were the 1st to give me decent anti-cramp advice and I still use it now so the sub3 is down to you!

I can't repeat most of the words but they were mainly uttered in dis-belief I suppose. Whatever the celebration, the mood changed quickly and as I cramped all over, crashed to the floor and started squealing!
Bazoaxe asks: absolutely delighted to see you reach a long time goal. How much of a part do you think the shoes played and would you have gone sub 3 without them ?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks Baz - you know that I've always thought I'd be congratulating you before you did me. Hang in there though, you're up next.

The shoes. Who knows. What I do know is that I stood on the startline of my warm-up 10k and HM races telling everyone that they are cheating, convinced that they'd give me 10s/mile or so benefit. It proved the case when I ran my 10k PB and maybe also benefitted me when I ran a decent HM off a week of illness. The novelty had warn off quite a bit by the time it came to the mara and I'll admit that I was a little bit spooked by G's suggestion that they might ruin me. Thankfully they didn't and my much-maligned feet were also totally unscathed after Abingdon. It's a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a pair of running shoes but I'd urge you to put some on your Xmas list. There is definitely something about them.
STOOSH asks: Well done WW - what do you think was the difference between London and Abingdon training wise or mentally that has seen you achieve your sub3 goal. Also, what cake are you going to bake??

Windsor Wool says: Nice one Stoo - I can't cook beans on toast let alone bake a cake. I do like a coffee and walnut though if you are offering ;-)

I suppose the major difference between training for VLM17 and Abingdon was what came before it. I'm a believer that back-2-back campaigns make a big difference and Abingdon benefitted from the endurance built up ahead of VLM17. In all honesty the VLM17 sub3 attempt was a bit of a shot-to-nothing really. I had no Autumn '16 campaign to build on and then broke my ankle as I started my training plan. I got fit quite quickly when I recovered but I'm not sure I really ever believed that I could do it off such compromised training. Perhaps that explains why I got so stressed when I caught you at that VLM and started the 'WW says relax!' chant to myself.....I just thought I was going way too fast if I was running alongside you and it got me all stressed out!!
FergusG asks: Well done WW! Having conquered the tail end of Storm Brian and a steep underpass, what do you fear most on a run - Hills, Heat or Wind?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks Fergus - it was great to share the moment with you and get that pic!!

That underpass, ha! I was expecting something FAR worse and chuckled to myself as I went through it. No mistake, I was at walking pace as I hobbled out the other side but I'd expected Mt Everest given the warnings ahead of the event!!

We conquered the wind so can't be afraid of that again. I managed heat quite well at Valencia in 2015 too (the cap / water on head approach is great) so it must be hills. For me it's not the ups but the downs and the impact on the quads. I haven't really done it in the past but I at least hope that you can train yourself to be better prepared. Actually, I sincerely hope this is the case given that I really want to run Snowdonia in 2018!
RRR-CAZ asks: Well done Q, What is the reason behind your Fetch name

Windsor Wool says: thanks Caz.

Wool has always been my nickname but when I came along to Fetch that moniker was taken. So I simply added my town of residence in front and I became the real WW for ever!

Say hi on a startline soon please!!
LouLou asks: Congratulations WW! I was going to ask about the magic shoes but Bazoaxe has got their first. What is your most valued thread on fetcheveryone forum? If you could go back to when you first started marathon training, what one elemnt of your training would you have changed to get to sub 3?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks Lou for that and your continued support on the threads I'm going to talk about below. It's just brilliant to see the recovery you've made and to see you running and smiling again.

I've always been on Fetch for the training support and advice and so the training threads are where it's at for me. The 3:15 thread of course stands out as somewhere the debate is always (well, usually!) really worthwhile. I think that's in part because many people have not seen the need to 'graduate' to other threads, have stuck around and created a sub-community of folks who really care about running regardless of their relative standard. I wish more of the threads could be like this but I think that folks like to see themselves progress through threads alongside their PBs. Or, folks get put off by the fact that there are a lot of us who can run a bit quicker (not that much!) than 3:15 who hang out on there. Fair enough, but all that happens is that folks of similar standard move on to talk to one another on a different thread, often affirming one another's already similar perspectives on things. What should really be happening is that we should all be crashing the 2:45 thread and getting real advice from the experts. Or at the very least, the 3:30 / 3:45 / 4:00 threaders should be all over the 3:15 thread. Come on, do it!

Looking back what would I change? Well, when I look back I made big early strides in my running just running around quite quickly. I changed that when I started to get designs on the marathon and started training quite a lot slower. It wasn't until I put more pace back in to my training that I made decent improvements. So, I'd change that. But who knows whether it was those easier miles that meant that I could start training a bit quicker in due course. Who knows?!

Fat Slow Lazy Hawk asks: What took you so long ;-) Nah well deserved mate. What would you say were the key differences in the lead up to Abingdon compared to previous marathons ?


Windsor Wool says: Thanks Joe. When are you going to get yourself back to actually racing some of those events you enter?!

A question similar to Stoo's and Jock's with another different answer. This time was different in a few different ways. 1. I had something to build upon (a Spring campaign); 2. I was pretty much uninterrupted in my training with only a week or so lost due to illness; 3. I had the shoes; 4. I focussed on losing a bit more weight which I achieved by going teetotal for about 6 weeks ahead of the event; 5. I got a bit more focussed on the overall pace of my training (increase it, particularly in the last month).

So, quite a lot of changes actually. Basically threw the kitchen sink at it.
paul the builder asks: Cracking run, I was made up for you. This may be a bit niche, but you mentioned briefly your golfing history a while back. Tell us your lowest handicap/best round, and then, in comparison to 2:59 - which sport are you better at? Which is the harder to achieve?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks PtB - you know that you've been quite an influence in my progression form aspiring sub 3:15er to incredulous sub 3er. I believe I still have another 12s to find though. Gah.....

Golf is best played in retrospect and I think golfers favourite thing to do is to recount stories of old!

The lowest I ever got was a 3 hcp (2.5 if we're counting) back when I was 19. I started playing golf when I was 14 and got in to a group of similar aged players who just drove one another on. Most left me behind going on to greater things but they certainly pulled me along. Things never improved from there after I discovered other things in life but I bounced around between 4 & 5 for the next 20 years or so until one day I had enough, put the clubs in the car and never played again. Now I play occasionally with my 8 year old son but I can feel my frustration growing as soon as I step on the 1st tee of the pitch & putt so it's unlikely that I'll go back.

I have loads of great rounds that I still reflect on. I once shot 141 for 36 competitive holes in 6 hours including a stop for lunch. That's the way golf should be played. My finest memory comes from my 1st outing for my local club team, playing in an inter-club match for which you had to qualify over months of play. I was an 18 year old surprise qualifier, playing off 4. After a good 4somes performance in the morning with one of my mates, I stood on the tee of the par 4 1st in the singles stroke play in the afternoon feeling confident. I promptly took 6 after fluffing a chip and 3 putting. But I was so calm and by the 9th I was back to level. When I holed a 40 footer on the 14th I was 2 under. Just typing it I can feel the chills down my spine, what an experience with all those people watching on. Ultimately, I chased birdie in front of the crowd on the 18th, 3 putted and shot 71. I woke up in the club car park around 4 in the morning so I think I may have enjoyed the celebrations too!

When I look at my Run Britain handicap I am spookily at 2.5. But by other measures I reckon I was a much better golfer than I am a runner. If you take the average golf club there aren't many men as low as 3; if you take the average running club there will be quite a smattering of men who have run sub 3. I think there's a difference in the activities (I can't class golf as a sport) too; I'm sure that some natural level of aptitude is required to get good at golf. Yes, that's the case for running too but I think an individual can progress further at running just with hard work and determination. Some folks just look all wrong with a club in their hands and no amount of coaching ever seems to fix it!
Daz Love asks: Well done WW. Cracking run and well deserved MoM for all the help you give across the marathon threads. Was also going to ask about the golf but Ptb beat me to it, so, tell us your favourite joke 😛

Windsor Wool says: Thanks Daz - looks like you are building in some good consistency now so you'll be sub3 next time too :-) Better keep it clean so what about this cracker (or maybe it should be in a cracker)?

If Will Smith was lost in a white out how would you find him?
Just look for the Fresh Prints!


Night-owl asks: Congratulations Its the Fetch annual party the theme is celebrities who do you dress up as.

Windsor Wool says: Many thanks N-O.

Fancy dress you say? Well, thanks for the invitation but I have my long run in the morning and so I'd better get an early night!
Jock Itch asks: Well done my son ! long overdue but you kept plugging away. And like the pocket rocket god you are you reaped the joy of a time starting with 2! What was different this time around ?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks Dad. Thanks again for that last minute poke and call to get my head together. It really did help!

I think Stoo asked me a similar question and I now I'm going to answer completely differently! One thing I learned from previous campaigns was that I had a tendency to peak a bit too early on an 18 week plan and so this time I did something a bit shorter, about 14 weeks in reality. I also wrote my own plan this time around which was a bit of a hybrid between P&D and Daniels (basically P&D + hardest Daniels sessions, actually). About 6 weeks out I was nowhere where in the past I'd been running my best. It took 3 long runs in the last 4 weeks to bring things together but hey presto 2 weeks out I felt great. Perhaps us veterans can leave things to the last minute a little more?
ferret asks: Congratulations on the sub 3 marathon, marathon blog, & motm. I’d like to know about ‘time in the bank’. Why doesn’t it help, if it came with no effort, maybe on a gentle downhill slope?

Windsor Wool says: Thanks F. October was quite a month!

I am not sure which, if any, of the training threads you follow but you'll find the idea of banking time is discussed on most from time to time. I am no great scientist but my experience tells me that even effort is the right way for us to go for us non elites. There is science around but I am the wrong person to try and tell it. Why not pop in to the 3:15 thread and ask the question?

If a course is significantly downhill in the early stages (like London) then even effort would lead to a bit of banked time. For me that's an ok approach. Sorry I can't be more specifically helpful.
Nigel (Runcopter) Bleach asks: What is best for aching calf after a run, massage, or food supplements, ie magnesium / potassium.

Windsor Wool says: I'd say that best cure for aching muscles is to avoid them in the 1st place. If you are aching after your general runs then your general runs are being run too hard and you likely need to build up to the pace that you're currently running at. Of course we all like to run harder sessions because that makes us feel like proper runners. I'm sure everyone's muscles ache after these but stretching & rolling helps me enormously. I also find that compression helps me, particularly using calf guards during hard sessions. In general I avoid sessions involving reps of 400m or less as they simply do me in to the point it compromises my other training.

I take electrolytes rich in Mg / K in the run up to marathons as one angle to avoid cramping although I believe the science doesn't reach a concensus if this helps.

Hope this helps.

Previous Winners

2017
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