The How

'How' Wilmslow Personal Trainer is going to attempt to run a sub 3 hour marathon

Did you read my first blog ‘the why’?. If you did first of all thank you. And second, more fool you for coming back for more, but really please keep reading.

Since we’re both here let me invite you along on this journey in the format of a bloke who’s used to running around and counting to 10 for a living now pretending to be some sort of wordsmith trying to peak your interests and engage over the written word.

The purpose of this blog is to tell you how I’m actually going to achieve my goal of a sub 3 hour marathon?

For the nerdy lot out there I’m going to dive into a few specifics. One of my pet hates are interviews, podcasts or blogs like this with a clickbait title that then don’t actually give any details or insight into peoples training and nutrition. Politely, well not politely no, rather bluntly I don’t want to listen to other people have a conversation about where they grew up and that holds no reference to their now expertise, I want the nitty gritty and this is what I will share. If I listen to an in depth interview with Usian Bolt I want to know about him winning the World Junior Championships at 15 years old not a tale about his first love and the name of his dog.


I’m currently running 5 or 6 days per week. There are 2 big ‘workouts’ these are fast runs, things like intervals, threshold runs etc. Then the rest are easy runs. If you’re new to running you’ve probably spat your brew out at the phrase ‘easy run’ but there is and you should be doing them but that’s another blog on it’s own. Nearly every runner who runs 1500m or above does the vast majority of their training at a lower intensity with the fast hard runs sprinkled in.

So how do I organise and plan my training. Well first you must start with the goal, and when is the goal and what does the athlete need to achieve the goal. For me it’s a 2:59 marathon which means running 26.2 miles or 42km at 6:50 per mile or 4:16 per km. If you think that starting off by running at 6:50 per mile is a good place to start then I’m afraid you’re wrong. In fact that’s about the biggest rookie mistake you can make. What you actually need to run for 3 hours at pace in a bloody big aerobic base and that is where we start. The when isn’t applicable just yet, it’s not something I can do in 1 training block in fact it’s a multi year goal. So I’m on the stepping stones, my shorter term goal is the Great Manchester Half Marathon on 22nd May. This means we work backwards from there.

We need to plan our runs (most easy), but the faster workouts need to build with intensity as we go. Plus we can’t build in a linear fashion all the way to the race, we have to incorporate down weeks (a planned week with less intensity). We need to work out the duration of any interval training, the pace of the intervals in conjunction with the time. Threshold runs, how long? What actually is your threshold pace?

When you’ve done all of this and planned your program you then need to pay a man to come and do it again only better. I use a coach for multiple reasons, he’s got over 30 years experience specifically in middle to long distance running, he actually had an athlete running at the Tokyo Olympics. A completely independent set of eyes is unbiased, left to our own devices we will naturally gravitate to what we’re best at and neglect our weaknesses. I want you to think of your favourite exercise or type of run and then how many times in the last month you’ve done it? Now think of your least favourite exercise or type of run, now how many times in the last month have you done that? Plus I’ll bet you’re infinitely better at your favourite. Now the big one for me is accountability, my coach writes my training and I do it, simples.

Although I want to run a marathon and I am in awe of people running unbelievably fast times, a runners physique is not something I desire. Therefore I’m trying to maintain a bit of strength training and keeping my calories up. Realistically I aim to lift twice a week, but you’ll be surprised with what you can do with even just twice a week.


Nutrition is an interesting topic, proper nutrition is absolutely vital to maximise performance. However it’s a topic I often don’t talk about in an open forum because as the old saying goes ‘a little information can be dangerous’. I’ll answer direct questions and go into details when time allows, the science is undeniable, irrefutable and actually relatively simple however helping people to follow the science often isn’t so simple. I believe the key to helping people is education. Maybe someone with a far bigger brain than me can educate a whole group of people with a few sentences but I’m convinced I can’t.

However since the topic is about how I’m fuelling I’ll answer some commonly asked questions.

Do I count calories? Mostly no, infrequently yes. I’ve been in this game long enough to know roughly where I am on a day to day basis without accurately counting. I usually end up between 3200-3700kcals per day, that’s a decent range but remember my goal is to make sure I’m eating enough, not the opposite. I’d guess maybe once a month I actually track a sample day to see where I’m at, although at the time of writing I haven’t done it this year (it’s currently the end of February). It’s fair to say I don’t accurately count but I am aware. I strongly believe in enjoying food, and I’m far from rigid with my nutrition. When eating out I don’t try to calculate things in my head, I just eat enjoy and move on. Same applies for eating with family and takeaways.

What did I have for breakfast today? Two cinnamon and raisin bagels with a banana peanut butter spread and a banana. I have this nearly every day and it’s delicious.

How much protein do I have a day? Over 2g per kg of bodyweight (usually a good chunk over). I know this slightly contradicts my paragraph above but there’s a big difference between sports nutrition and real world nutrition for wellbeing and weight management maybe that’s a topic for another blog too.  

How much carbohydrate do I have each day? Roughly 5-6g per kg of bodyweight.
Ps yes I can roughly hit those protein and carbohydrate numbers without tracking or thinking about it for more than a minute or so. Not so much old dog, new tricks. More old dog, old tricks 😊

No body ever asks about fat, and I don’t know the answer anyway so I’ll move on.

What do I eat before a run? For an easy run nothing, it suits my schedule although the smells running past the Cheshire Smokehouse in the morning practically make me drool, although I don’t know what’s baking I often try to guess what it was. I could easily ask but sometimes it’s better not to know and let the imagination run wild. I’m definitely ready for my breakfast when I get back. For a faster and longer effort I’ll have a maurten 320 carbohydrate drink or eat my normal breakfast about 2 hrs before hand.

Do I drink? Yes, I love a beer. That’s a lie, I love many many beers. However generally I don’t drink for a few months but then get blind drunk with the lads. This means I’m constantly out of practice, in fact I’m what can be described as a cheap date.

Do I take supplements? Not really no. I have a maurten 320 carbohydrate drink before my big runs, this is because I generally run earlier in the morning and I am not willing to sacrifice any sleep in waking up earlier to eat and allow my food to digest before I run.

I’ll have the odd shake or protein sporadically, I haven’t had a protein shake this month. I had an oaty protein flapjack today in the car, I generally like to eat my food rather than drink it. But I think you can put 2 and 2 together and see my view on these things.  

I do try to take a multivitamin each day but I often forget, I haven’t remembered once this week so far. How hard can it be to remember to take 1 pill a day? For me it’s nigh on impossible. It’s a good job I’m not a girl otherwise I’d be pregnant a lot!

The obsession of people focusing on supplements is a pet hate of mine, supplementation might make a couple of percent difference and I stress the word might. However only if the rest of your nutrition is on point. Focusing on supplements over your food you’re consuming day in day out is a bit like playing the EuroMillions and hoping you win a lucky dip! I don’t know about you but when I buy a ticket I’m hoping for the £100,000,000 jackpot. In case you can’t work it our your actual food you consume 90% of the time is the jackpot.


Some people say that running is a cheap sport, all you need is a pair of shoes and the great outdoors. On the face of it they’re right, what part of one foot in front of another is expensive?

Let’s start with the shoes. Oh but which shoes? Do you mean my easy run shoes, my speedwork shoes, my long run shoes, my race shoes or even my recovery day shoes?

I don’t subscribe to needing that many shoes, in fact I’ve had to unsubscribe to more than a few youtube channels reviewing shoes so I can continue to subscribe to my theory of not needing that many shoes and remove the temptation all together. Although it doesn’t remove the temptation does it?

But like anything you use everyday they will wear out over time, and if one is slightly heavier then one will wear out these shoes quicker than most. While I’m not 100kg I actually weigh in just over 80kg, this is heavier than most. Even my own mother tells me “Richard, you are a heavier runner”. I usually get about 300-400 miles out of my shoes. That’s reasonable and no bad thing, it means I can treat myself to new trainers more often and who doesn’t like new trainer day! My wife loves it too, she loves it so much she can barely contain her excitement, she often celebrates by saying my name in a stern voice then leaving the room. I think she just must want to celebrate on her own.

I actually only use 2 pairs of trainers in my rotation however. I use a pair for my easy runs and a different pair for my faster runs. My ‘easy run’ shoes retail at £160 (Nike Invincibles), my shoes I use for tempo runs retail at £240 (Nike Vaporfly Next %), my race shoes retail at £270 (Nike Alphafly). Two hundred and seventy pounds is bloody well daylight robbery, at least Dick Turpin wore a mask! But they’re simply the best shoes available and Nike have a monopoly on the market so what are you going to do hey? Have you ever seen a man stumbling and falling in bright orange expensive race trainers? You may think a falling man is out of control but you’d be wrong, very wrong. In order to save the notoriously brittle and expensive shoes you’ll quite happily sacrifice everything, imagine a half flip landing on your back with the finishing position resembling an upturned crab. I’m sure the judges would appreciate my calmness in the situation preserving my prized assets and duly award me a perfect score. It’s a bit like when you ever see anyone with a beer in a pool, you can fall in, slide off a lilo, catch a ball throw it back all while keeping said beer above water. When the chips are down, we really can pull out all the stops.

My watch costs £250 and that’s cheap, some are closer to £1000. It’s temperamental too, there’s a great big white dot on the front of the screen. It often confused my cadence for my heart rate. It goes through GPS black patches too. In fact I’m convinced I am the right man to head up NASA’s mission to land on Mars, calculating re-entry speeds and angles is child’s play compared to what’s going round in my head.

Each pair of shorts is nearly £50 and I have 5 pairs, by now I’m getting to the point where I need some more to replace the worn out ones, more celebrations in the Keyworth household. I like the ones with built on cycling shorts/under shorts to stop chaffing. We all suffer from it and there’s no point in denying it. My strava says I have used over 12 pairs of running shoes so you can do the maths. Then there’s the cost of the man to coach me but I suppose that’s his business. But I suppose it’s not as expensive as a membership at the local golf club but that’s like playing fetch with yourself. I have never been able to work out why the 5th tee is the optimal place to negotiate a business deal or talk about the return on your investments, although I am jealous of the bar at the end.


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