Stephen's Marathon Blog 4 by Stephen Ralston

I am sure that in every training plan there comes the ‘bad week’ and I hope others have an appreciation of this also. Its not a case that I ran badly for a week, more that I didn’t really get chance to run, exercise or follow any kind of healthy diet.  Essentially it was half term and I was balancing work, kids and grandparents looking after kids. It’s a general struggle to appease the kids, the job, the grandparents and your own nagging conscience, so running tends to fall by the wayside.  In writing this blog it made me think about those online articles in Runners World titled ‘5 ways to improve your running’.  The usual tips are stuff about progressing gradually, working on your core strength, improving your cadence, running more intervals (or hills, or the mysterious ‘tempo’). I always have a look (alike to those articles that say ‘I planked every day for 4 years and these are the results’) and come away disappointed as there wasn’t an amazing new solution.  I came to the conclusion that I should write my own ‘top five ways to get faster’ as guidance for some of our younger, faster runners so they may not fall into the same traps in the future:

  1. Don’t get married. A spouse will only request your attention taking you away from valuable running, core strength or recovery time.
  2. Don’t have kids. Kids will only request your attention taking you away from valuable running, core strength or recovery time. In some cases they will completely deplete all energy or make you eat food you shouldn’t. End of day exhaustion can lead to drinking too much recovery wine.
  3. Don’t have a job of any significance. Jobs only distract you away from running and stress you out (see above regarding recovery wine).
  4. Don’t buy a house. Houses need upkeep. You are bad at upkeep and simple household tasks will take an extraordinary length of time distracting you from running etc.
  5. Don’t get older. You will suddenly wake up one day and be able to really feel yesterdays run. It will be an aching Achilles tendon that stops you walking downstairs or hip flexors that you didn’t know you even had. Equally it can be the extra weight that you now seem to be carrying as your metabolism slows from the speed of a Japanese bullet train to that of a District Line tube train stuck outside of Hammersmith.

So back to training hard this week leading up to the Hillingdon half. I cant say ‘No Five Guys’ at the end of this blog. See above, #2.

London Marathon Blog 3 or It's All Pants by Stephen Ralston

When you take up a new hobby you always tend to get hobby related Christmas presents, and this year was the running year. Past years have been cycling years and I got numerous water bottles, bells, handlebar streamers etc. All very funny, sometimes useful. So this year my most interesting running related present was a pair of running related underwear; they are called Runderwear. I didn’t know what to say...

So these pants are a strange beast. If you scroll there should be a picture attached (don’t worry, they are not being worn in the picture). Firstly the fit. All I can say is, don’t put them on in the dark or you will be convinced that they are on back to front. You then swap them round, and still think they are back to front, before resolving that you were right the first time, but still feel wrong.  Even in the light it’s a challenge because the markings on the pants aren’t exactly straightforward. 



Second is the texture. The pants claim to be seamless; its true and it’s a cross between a pair of pants that have been knitted by your Gran out of some kind of soft and dense fish netting material. They are weird and almost feel nappy’ish.  

Anyway, training is going well.  No Five Guys!


London Marathon Blog 2, or Mistaken Identity... by Stephen Ralston

Its fair to say that most people in the club thing I’m David Powlson. It was only Saturday at the Wormwood Scrubs Cross Country race when I got a, ‘Come one Dave!’, and this isn’t an isolated case.  After the Ealing Half Marathon I had a long conversation about my recovery and how hard I had found the event. It was true in that I had found it hard and struggled from the Drayton pub onwards, and I was able to innocently regale about how hard I had found it all, not knowing at the time that David had also found it difficult and this is what the conversation was actually referring to (David has his own story on this). Its not that we don’t have similarities; I think we both joined the club in a similar timeframe, both have young families, similar aged, dark hair with an angular handsomeness(?), so I can see where the mistakes have come, but its starting to get a bit like ‘Only Fools and Horses’ where Trigger keeps calling Rodney, ‘Dave’ ( 

I’m glad to say that it’s not just one sided, David has been mistaken for me also and congratulated for his efforts in different events that he didn’t attend, and it got me thinking,…maybe I could use this to my advantage.  Lets just say that if you are at a club social event and see someone enjoying the evening a little too much, and the person  looks a bit like David Powlson, don’t hesitate, it was definitely David!!

To be fair, David couldn’t be a nicer guy so its not a bad situation. And sorry to disappoint, but there’s no heart-breaking back story to this where twin boys were separated at birth in a dramatic titanic style boat crash, growing up, living separate lives with a mysterious half pendant an only clue to another life, and a common longing to return to the motherland of Ealing! Nope, Just coincidence. Maybe it’s a surname thing as well; Ralston/Powlson...maybe not.  Anyway, discuss.

Back to running. Training's going well. Day 15 of January and no Five Guys!

  The question is, is Stephen on the left or the right?!

The question is, is Stephen on the left or the right?!

London Marathon Blog 1 by Stephen Ralston

Hello and welcome to my first blog post in the run up to the London Marathon later this year.  I hope I can make this as un-original and include as many running analogies as possible, after all life is a marathon not a sprint! I was delighted to learn I was lucky enough to be drawn from the club ballot to run the London Marathon; unfortunately I was not at the Christmas party and was recovering from a close friend's Xmas shindig when I got the news...enough to give an adrenaline kick to shake off the after effects of a heavy evening. 

I am sure everyone says this, but London is a true bucket list event and one I had targeted from starting to run in 2016 and joining the Eagles.  Previously I had done loads of cycling and was pretty fit from competing in big European Sportive events in the Alps and Time Trialling, but a start in running came after my wife gave birth to twins, adding to our current 2 children.  Four kids put an end to 3 hour cycle rides and I saw running as a more convenient, and evening based solution and joining the Eagles was a way to make new friends and start a routine.  So I ran a bit in 2017, plenty of club runs, solo runs, hills training, half marathons and an eventual marathon that I ran in York (Yorkshire Marathon) in October. I managed to get a ‘good for age’ qualifying time for London, however this would only work for application for the 2019 event and I had signed up to run the Great Wales Marathon (in Llanelli) to fill the 2018 gap as my expectation to get a place for London in the club ballot was low.

So, training had already started in November to get back into some form of shape after enjoying the Yorkshire marathon for too long after the event (Five Guys) and the London Ballot news spurred me on over the Christmas holidays. I cant say I watched what I ate or drank (Five Guys), but I got out and ran with a view that I can be more prudent (no Five Guys) alongside a dry January.  I look forward to seeing you on week based club runs in the coming months. Sunday mornings aren’t easy for me given I take two of my kids to the Pitshanger Jnr Parkrun, but I intend on doing double laps on Monday and Wednesday evening club runs, so if anyone wants to join me, let me know. I tend to run the first lap at a good pace and the second lap at a more moderate conversational pace, so I would be happy for the company.