Darren Beale Web developer, retailer & photographer

On your marks…

Here’s my sticker chart, haven’t I been a good boy.

I’ve been meaning to start documenting my running & health journey more regularly but the usual trifecta of imposter syndrome, motivation and knowing what to write got the better of me.

The thing I have been  most self-conscious about is being another selfie and inspirational quote merchant who doesn’t add that much value. Given my sometimes very unmotivated mental state it felt hard to come up with original content that might be useful for others.

Finally, I’ve decided to get my finger out and JFDI.

To start with I’ll simply document what I’ve been up to and summarise any key takeaways or learning points in the hope that something I write is useful for others.

Working from home

With my remote team settled and things ticking over nicely, the office was looking like a waste of money so I’m getting rid of it. Whilst we get it mothballed and all the lease stuff sorted out I have started working from home again.

This is challenging to say the least when the kids are home for school holidays and I’m defaulting to providing basic childcare. Thankfully they are older  (youngest is nine) so it’s not a huge overhead to give them some lunch. It’s more the noise and inevitable interruptions I get as well as them generating such a huge amount of mess!


Marathon Training

With a base fitness of 20 injury-free miles per week over the past 6 months or so and following me getting a cracking time at a very tough trail half over the Long Mynd, I decided to make a second attempt at 26.2 miles. This time I have a firm goal of coming in under 4 hours which means me working to a target pace of 8:45 minutes per mile.

For perspective that’s 26 miles back-to-back, each at around the same pace I ran my first Parkrun at 😱

I’m following a 12 week plan and things are going very well so far, everything crossed. The miles have ramped up to more than 40 per week and my legs are handling it. I’m also managing to fit all the runs into the rest of my life as well as be prepped in terms of pre and post run fuelling (that’ll be food to you).

I am very tired, though. It’s not unknown to have ran 30 miles in 2-3 days.

My rest days are like a little holiday.

Most importantly, I can handle the pace as well as the distance. Every few weeks the plan dictates a long run with some of it at race pace. Doing 17 miles recently, mostly at marathon pace, was a huge confidence boost. When I was training for London just doing the long run distance was the challenge.

At the time of writing I have 6 full weeks of training left before the Chester marathon on 8th October.

Physio report

I ‘fessed up and told him I’m training for a marathon.

“What! You said you’d keep it light, just some halves over the summer” (etc)

Turns out I’m getting away with it so far. I’m flexible with great movement and most importantly: there are no shin issues – through over-training I had the beginnings of a stress fracture on my right shin during my previous marathon training (amongst various other injuries).

I got a glowing health report and am to continue all my stretching and rolling but should not – at pain of death – do any speed or hill work.

On plan races are OK, yay.

Things I’ve learned*

* I’m not cheating here, this is just in the past few weeks.

Autumn Marathon training is an order of magnitude easier than a spring training

It stands to reason.  Would you prefer to do a 17 mile long run in the freezing rain and snow on a dark February morning or on a mild July afternoon with some cloud cover?

There’s also simply more time. Even in late August it is light early and sunset isn’t until 8pm.


Be good to your feet

This is pretty obvious, sure. But really be good to them, pamper them.

If you do any mileage you’ve probably got at least one runner’s toe, a black nail or bits hanging off. This doesn’t have to happen. Try and pad your shoe or tape some toes together, see what works.

There are different ways to tie your shoes

Not one or two ways, lots of ways.

There are specific exercises just for feet and toes

I’ve got calf-raises in my workout and I have a special roller for my feet but I had no idea there were so many exercises for feet & toes.

Moisturising your feet is a thing

As well as the hard skin at the back of my foot I started getting bits of hard skin building up on the side of my toes. Physio has told be to work on this. File it down and – a completely new one to me – moisturise my feet.

It would never have occurred to me that feet moisturising was a) needed or b) a thing.


I kept it light this first post to ensure I press publish.

Marathon training is going well and I’m on track for sub four hours in six weeks. No pressure.

By bealers
Darren Beale Web developer, retailer & photographer