Do as he says, not as I do

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a talk given by my coach Nick Anderson, to a group of runners from my club, the Mornington Chasers. The subject of the talk was rather wide-ranging and essentially boiled down to…

Ways to be the best runner you can be

As usual, Nick got stuck in to some pretty specific advice. And I took absolutely none of it on board. It was almost comical.

Amongst other things and in no particular order, Nick gave the following advice:

  • Hydrate well – I had probably drunk a pint of water all day and that evening drank almost exclusively fruit juice!
  • Eat properly – the Chasers had organised a some lovely food, but I actually ate some chips, some pizza and a couple of handfuls of peanuts. Nick told us clearly in that what we had eaten was not enough – that it was a snack and not dinner – but by the time I had cycled home it was nearly 11pm and I was tired. So I had two small bread rolls with feta cheese and a chocolate mousse. Brilliant!
  • Eat within 5 minutes of finishing your run/session – I had been for a pre-breakfast run at 7am but when I got back it was at least an hour before I managed to eat anything. Then the first thing to pass my lips was a cup of tea.
  • Sleep well – Nick talked about the fact that our bodies enter the phase where we are really repairing the damage from training after four hours sleep. I got to bed around midnight and was up at 5am… so that would be one solitary hour in the recovery sleep phase then.
pizza chips
A runners dinner? It is if you’re an idiot.

To top all that off, I went out today to meet a trail race organiser to learn about how to put on a good off-road event (it was a brilliant day and there will be a report on here very soon). By 2pm I was freezing cold – having spent almost 3 hours walking and running around the course with the organiser and a photographer, leaping in and out of puddles to get the perfect shot – and I had not eaten anything since 8am when I had feasted on just 2 slices of toast.

Life gets in the way of perfect training for most of us. But that is no excuse for being an idiot.

Like many people, I suspect, I allow the pressure of life and work to take over. But that is a choice I make. I can always make different choices if I want.

I could have taken a Tupperware box with a homemade pasta salad to the talk last night and done the same for the day out today. I could have ordered two pints of tapwater at the bar last night instead of orange juice. I could have made a sensible decision about not trying to go for a run before leaving to catch my train to meet the trail race director, which might have afforded me an extra couple of hours’ sleep.

What I think happened is that I did not follow my new mantra:

Run the day. Don’t allow the day to run you.

So please, do me a favour. Do not do as I do. Do as Nick says. If you really care about your running and you really genuinely want to be the best runner you can be, plan ahead and make sure you do the right stuff to allow you to eat, drink, recover and sleep well. That way the training will take care of itself and you will arrive at the start line of your race in the best possible shape. Oh and if you remember, can you drop me an email to remind me to do the same? The address is Thanks!


  1. Simon a good post yet again and totally agree. I admit i eat crap trying to amend that i’m convinced its the reason i fell the other week black eye bruised cheek and chin (fractured elbow 3 years ago in a similar fall) So trying to make sure i am eating well but its hard. Falling is not good as you get older you don’t bounce as well

  2. Simon I am shocked…I remember from Run Dem weren’t you the one who managed a 2hr36min London marathon? 🙂 What you need is a water bottle OCD, I can’t leave the house without one! Like your mantra and would be interested in your trail race. Have you been on any of the Coastal Trail Series with Endurance Life? Some are brutal, but absolutely amazing views…

    1. Hannah, sorry to have shocked you – but I guess that was part of the plan. I have managed a 2:38 marathon and yet I still get ‘it’ wrong half the time. I think that part of marathon training is striving to achieve perfect training for weeks and weeks, then executing a good race on the day is (relatively) easy! You are absolutely right about carrying a bottle wherever I go and I will start to remember that: I might post a note on the inside of the front door!

      As for the Costal Trail Series, I have done a few. Last year my wife Julie and I ran the Classic Quarter together – 44 miles along the Cornish Coast. Utterly beguiling! This year I think Julie is running three of their races and I am joining her for two of them. Then we’re off to Chamonix for the 100km CCC race. Hope the views are enough of a distraction! What have you got planned in 2013?

      1. I think this looks to be my most active year yet, having done South Devon CTS half a couple of weeks ago I am now looking forward to a duathlon in a week, a triathlon in Auckland and secretly I am going to enter the Liverpool Age Groupers Olympic distance qualifying race in July with the hope to get through to the ITU Grand Final London…my fingers are tighly crossed! I feel it’s going to be a good year and hopefully I’ll still have non-triathlete friends by the end of it…there’s going to be a lot of training 🙂

        In reference to your article above and nutrition what are your views on protein drinks/supplements? Or is that for a different article?

  3. At risk of undermining your resolutions (don’t use this as an excuse to abandon them) I find that I eat better, or at least, more, when I stop worrying so much about food. That is coming from a no grains, no dairy diet though – about every 3 months I have an afternoon when the thought of training makes me want to abandon the sport all together, at which point a Mars bar turns me into the Energiser Bunny and training becomes easy and fun. I also remember eating 3/4 of a chicken before a weights session and noticing a big improvement (I am a rower). So I’m all for following the rules, and sometimes doing the exact opposite of the rules when the discipline and planning is taking too much energy and fun out of being an athlete.

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