Running Information Forums
Loughborough, Final Preparation and English Culture - Printable Version

+- Running Information Forums (
+-- Forum: Country and General Discussion (
+--- Forum: Journals-Articles (
+--- Thread: Loughborough, Final Preparation and English Culture (/Thread-Loughborough-Final-Preparation-and-English-Culture)

Loughborough, Final Preparation and English Culture - admin - 17-04-2008

In the 3rd of Dylan Wykes' articles he discusses Loughborough, final training runs around the area and English culture

Train Journey to Loughborough

I am on the train now traveling from Edinburgh, Scotland to Loughborough, England. I am going to be staying with some friends of a friend.

Gareth Turnbull, an Irish Athlete, who has spent some time in Providence over the years, owns a house in Loughborough.

He has been kind enough to arrange with the people renting his house so that I can crash there for the next 10 or 11 days before heading over to Rotterdam.

The train is pretty sweet. I haven't really ridden on trains much in my life. Probably the only times in recent memory were going to NYC for the ½ marathon last summer and going to Penn Relays as a freshman at Providence College. But, train travel is definitely less expensive in Europe. I really enjoy it because it does not involve all the time and hassles of security at airports. I feel much less stress traveling this way. You can show up two minutes before the train is due to leave and just hop on, no questions asked.

The train I am on now has wifi. So, I have been able to send a few friends and family emails letting them know that although world cross was a huge disappointment I am feeling better now (physically) and hopefully in two weeks time will be able to rock and roll.

The countryside on the train ride out of Edinburgh is fantastic. Out one side of the train are rolling green (really green) hills.

[Image: countryside.300.jpg]

And, out the other side is and expanse of open water (the North Sea). I think the fact that the sun is shining bright and that I am starting a new leg of my journey (and hopefully leaving behind the disappointment of the first leg) makes this scene seem slightly more spectacular for me than some others.

The journey becomes less exciting as the train travels into some industrialized cities in England. Mind you train tracks almost always make their way through the most industrialized parts of any city. But, this reminds me of the depressing and dreary scene set in movies like Trainspotting or ? (a movie set in early 80's industrially distraught Manchester which follows the evolution of the new wave music scene great movie)

I am looking forward to training in Loughborough over the next 10 days. The town and University have been home to many of Britain's greatest distance runners including Seb Coe, Dave Moorcroft, and Paula Radcliffe! I read some (but not all) of Paula Radcliffe's autobiography and remember her talking about the great training venues in Loughborough.


46 Woodlands Drive

Gareth has put me in touch with his good friend an insanely talented distance runner - Chris Thompson.

Chris is kind enough to pick me up at the train station. It turns out that Gareth only informed him the night before my arrival, via text msg, that I would be coming. So, I definitely feel like I am imposing a little on Chris and his housemates. But, they all seem really nice and hospitable. I will be occupying the not so vacant living room of Chris and his 4 other housemates and Olympic hopefuls (2 pole vaulters (Keith and Hen) and a High Jumper (Rob).

Thommo is quick to help me turn the rarely used (or so he tries to convince me) dining room into a comfortable bedroom real bed and all! Thommo turns out to be a huge help with everything and even cooks me a wonderful dinner on my first night in the house.


John Nutall (a not so shabby GB international in his day with PB's of 7.36 - 3000m and a 13.16 - 5000m) coaches a group of young Olympic hopefuls including Chris Thommo Thompson, Nick McCormick (3.35 - 1500), Emily Pidgeon, and Laura Finn all athletes funded by UK athletics that are based out of the growing and modern facilities at Loughborough University.

The High Performance Center (HIPAC) is the meeting place for training runs and as it turns out for every athlete in every event in athletics.

[Image: HPC.loughborough.300.jpg]

It is great to see so many people training hard and pursuing their dreams.

Some of John's group are doing a session, so Thommo (who is only getting back into things, slowly after another injury set-back) takes me for the first 15 minutes of my run and then points me in the direction of a forest with some trials. Surprisingly I found the trails to the forest and the loop around the forest. It was a great run. Afterwards I went for a bite of lunch with Thommo, Nick McCormick and Laura Finucane.

All or nothing for this lot

Working full time and training is something that I have adapted to quite well over the nearly two years that I have been doing it.

It did take a while for me to get into the swing of things and adjust to the new lifestyle. But, I think I have done quite well with it since, and wouldn't really want to do things a whole lot differently in the future. But, these folk here in Loughborough think that is crazy. The attitude here is train full-time or don't bother. They would see working part-time and running part-time as doing two things half ass and that nothing could be accomplished in athletics or the work place by doing so.

They think working full-time and training on top of that is an impossible endeavour.

But, I think this attitude is brought about in part by the generous funding that is available to athletes here. If you qualify for funding (and I am not sure how you do so) you are really well taken care of.

I think the athletes that get this funding sort of set the tone for the training groups in Loughborough. They have a lot of time on their hands and are able to really spread out their days with training sessions, physio, massage, eating meals, etc.

So, to others who are up and coming and maybe unfunded they think they must structure the days in the same way in order to have any success. There is no doubt that grinding out a 9-5 is not ideal, but if you have the right attitude and you surround yourself with the right people it can be done (well, I guess that is TBD).


Although I said I didn't intend for this to be a training log, I don't want people to think I haven't been training at all!!

In fact the training has gone really smoothly since arriving in Loughborough. I did a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday. It felt really good, and although I did not have any mile markers to get a sense of my pace, I did a loop around a big set of grass fields and was able to keep lap splits, all of which were within 5 seconds.

I also wore a Heart Rate monitor and kept my HR in the right ranges. Tempo runs are my favourite type of workouts. I do them often and they give me a ton of confidence in my fitness.

Since graduating from College I have learned a lot about doing a proper tempo/threshold run and they have since become the bread and butter of my training.

On Saturday, I did as session of 800's on the track at the Uni. There was a good vibe at the track, lots of people training hard.

I had a really good workout consisting of 7x800m @ 2:12-2:14 with 800m recovery in 2:48-2:55. My total time for 26laps was 32.45.

I've done workouts similar to this in the build-up, but none have felt this good. That is probably due to running many less miles. I finished off the week with my final run. Thommo did the first 50 minutes with me on a nice loop that incorporated the canal and some nice farmers fields.

I dropped Thommo off at the house and did the loop again for a nice 1hr40minutes.

Although it was a lot shorter than some of the runs I did when I was in a heavy training phase it was a good reminder that I am doing a marathon in one weeks time!

After this week of training I am feeling confident again for the marathon. Although the real training for the marathon concluded several weeks ago.

The Grand National

Yesterday was the running of the Grand National an annual long distance horse race in England. I was told that, although it is not the most lucrative horse race in the country, it is the most watched, both at the ground and on national TV.

[Image: paintree.300.jpg]

It was also described to me as being similar to the marathon it has a mass start of about 40 horses, which is often really chaotic and most years a horse dies at some stage of the race.

So to get in the spirit of the event I was told I had to put a bet on it.

With no knowledge of the horses I simply went with a name I liked - Snowy Morning. I believe his odds were about 15-1. So with my whopping 1 pound bet I felt very invested.

Surprisingly Snowy Morning was in the thick of the race almost the entire way and held on well for a very close 3rd. It was actually a really exciting race to watch.

There were so many changes in the lead and so many horses falling over barriers and horses whose jockey's had fallen off running all over the place. And the fact that Snowy Morning was on or near the front much of the way kept me on the edge of the couch. Unfortunately I just picked him for the win, so no winnings were to be had!

I also think I jinxed myself (and the rest of the country) because the next day when I woke up the ground was covered in snow it was indeed a snowy morning.


This time of year is not only when the NHL playoffs start (for you Canadian's out there) or when the MLB regular season gets under way (for you Americans especially those Red Sox fans)

But it is also the time of year when the UEFA Champions League football campaign really throws into high gear. With 4 English Premiership teams in the final 8, I knew I would find myself watching some good football with some really passionate fans.


Surprisingly most of the people I was staying with were not huge football fans, a few actually down right hated it. I guess my imagining that everyone in England loves football would be like them presuming everyone in Canada absolutely lives and dies for Hockey.

Anyways, one of the people I was staying with Chris Thompson is an avid Liverpool supporter, so that made things fun. One of my house mates in Providence, Keith Kelly, is also an avid Liverpool supporter, so I was somewhat familiar with the team and I guess a bit of a fan.

They played Arsenal in the quarterfinals and the first leg of the home and away series was away at Emirates Stadium. We went over to one of Thommo's friends place to watch the match. The game was actually quite entertaining it ended in a 1-1 draw. But perhaps more entertaining was Thommo and Johnny's ecstatic embrace when Liverpool scored to draw even!

Thommo was absent for the second leg of the series (having gone to South Africa for some warm weather training) so I was left to fill in his shoes as a Liverpool supporter. Although I didn't go in for the ecstatic embrace when Liverpool scored (which they did 4 times on this occasion) I did get behind them and get into the game.

I also wore Thommo's Liverpool jersey in his absence, and I think I brought them a bit of good luck in doing so!

I've found myself watching as much soccer news and highlight shows as I can now. Having that stuff on the TV isn’t unusual as Keith has it on in Providence all the time. But, I've never been engaged by it before.

I guess when I return to the state we'll see if I continue to follow things.

next UK experience - London Calling and more