Marathon programme underway with event in Forest of Dean

Marathon programme underway with event in Forest of Dean

More than 50 athletes and coaches gathered for an event in the Forest of Dean to train and take part in workshop sessions with Bud Baldaro, Andi Drake, Tracy Barlow, Nick Anderson and others.

The programme is part of England Athletics’ work to support athletes and coaches and raise the standard of marathon running in England with specific targets set for achievement by 2022.

Programme lead Nick Anderson said, “The weekend was a tremendous example of what we are trying to achieve. We saw a group of athletes and coaches who had the attitudes and approaches that were exactly what we are looking for. We saw people were hungry to learn, take on expert and specialist information, to progress, to have their thinking and ideas challenged, but also to share their ideas with others and encouragement with others.

“The way people engaged with the sessions and workshops was excellent. What we also saw was a very supportive atmosphere away from the workshops and during the training sessions. I’d thank all the presenters for not only the sessions they led but for the way they were also then continuing that dialogue over meals, coffee, during training sessions and at every opportunity.

“With Charlotte Fisher [England Athletics Road Running Coordinator and Spencer Duval [Endurance Lead and Coach and Athlete Development Manager] presenting the representative race calendar already lined up, and with more to follow, I am confident we will see the athletes taking these opportunities to progress to the next levels.”

Sports Coaching lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and director of the National Centre for Race Walking, Dr Andi Drake, of presented on the Physiology of the Marathon and worked through the elements of physiology that are relevant to a marathon and how they can be impacted by training, recovery, nutrition and environmental factors.

Among the topics Andi talked the group through, and opened out for questions and discussion, were research into pacing strategies at elite level (done at World Championships and Olympic Games), the roles of carbohydrate and fats in fuelling performance endurance athletes, the effects of heat and running economy. Andi also referenced how some of the content would then be built upon on the second weekend as nutrition, recovery, and hydration strategies would be looked at during the second weekend to be held in February.

Tom Craggs covered Recovery Strategies and Lifestyle and highlighted the importance of maintaining the balance between Training, Nutrition and Recovery, especially as training loads evolve, and how this can be done.

Throughout he emphasised the connections with the content delivered by Andi Drake and the need to maintain this balance of training load, nutrition and recovery, “For a lot of us we can spend an awful lot of time focussing on the ‘training’. If we keep pushing the training up, but don’t keep up the balance with nutrition and recovery the triangle will topple over. We need stresses to develop. The stresses need to be carefully managed.”

Tom covered a range of considerations and approaches needed, and how these needed to be properly considered in context, “If you are not doing the basics, getting into a cold bath is not going to save you. Get the basics right, rest is a session in your training plan.”

Tracy Barlow and Nick Anderson did a question and answer session with Allison Benton about how Tracy had gone from a 3:52 marathon in 2011 through to qualifying for, and competing in the 2017 World Championships. Her progression included a 2:40.02 (2:39:56c) in London in 2015 leading to an international debut for England in Toronto where she faced some of the opportunities and challenges of being part of an elite field, and ended up racing in tough conditions. Tracy and Nick discussed some of the benefits of the trip including that, after racing for England in Toronto, Tracy progressed to running 2:33, 2:32 and 2:30.

Tracy and Nick spoke through, and answered questions from Allison and the attendees, about the progression of training, preparation for her marathons, and the introduction and benefits gained from physiological testing. Tracy also spoke around decisions regarding relocation as well as full-time and part-time work, and being a full-time athlete.

Bud Baldaro who has coached athletes including Marion Sutton, the two time winner of the Chicago Marathon also joined Nick to answer a range of questions and give his views on marathon training and lifestyle. His three key attributes for a good marathon runner – good time management, a healthy lifestyle and the ability to work very hard. Again, the progression of training was a key subject covered including the role that can potentially be played by cross training.

Race preparation and the importance of mindset were emphasised “Your body follows your mind, your choice of language and your coaches choice of language is so important”, “Lots of guys lose their marathon in the opening four miles, run slower than feels slow”. And while the need for dedication and hard work was emphasised Bud also commented, “You should run because you enjoy it. It is your time, by yourself.”

The final session on the Sunday before the long run was “Getting The Long Run Right - Variations - progression runs, marathon pace, races and much more”.

Speakers for the second weekend in February the sessions will include Prof Andy Jones who will talk about subjects including his involvement in the Breaking2 project.

For more information about upcoming athlete and coach opportunities please see

For information about endurance specific opportunities please click see

Further details about the marathon programme are available below:

More about the Marathon programme

England Athletics’ a marathon programme was launched earlier this year to support coaches and athletes with the aim of significantly raising the depth of performance. We know that we can only do this in partnership with the coaches, clubs and athletes.

The second marathon weekend will take place from 2 – 4 February 2018. For details see


By the start of the Commonwealth Games of 2022, England Athletics aim to have;

  • 5 English women inside 2.30
  • 20 English women inside 2.40
  • 100 English women inside 2.55 
  • 5 English men inside in 2.14
  • 20 English men inside 2.20
  • 100 English men inside 2.28

England Athletics will run a two-tier programme, Performance and Development.  Athletes reaching the standards detailed below for the performance group will be invited with their coach to training and development camps.  Athletes and coaches aspiring to reach these standards are invited to register for the development activities linked through the development group notes. 



England Performance Marathon Group

This part of the programme is invitation only - based on standards of

  • Women - Sub 2.55 marathon or sub 80 half marathon.
  • Men - Sub 2.28 marathon or sub 68 half marathon.
  • PLUS
  • Other identified 10k runners looking to move up to the marathon in the next 18 months


England Development Marathon Group

Open to all coaches and athletes (although numbers may have to be restricted subject to demand and availability)

Marathon preparation evenings for coaches and athletes (see below).

Key speakers and discussion groups talking through practical experiences of marathon preparation.  These evening are targeted at athletes aspiring to the performance group targets i.e. those athletes realistically aiming to achieve:

  • Women - Sub 2.55 marathon or sub 80 half  
  • Men - Sub 2.28 marathon or sub 68 half   

Sessions will ensure athletes aspiring to run the higher performance targets are catered for as well.

Venues and dates:

South - Wednesday 10th January 2018

Time: 7.00pm to 9.30pm

St Mary’s University, Room G7, TW1 4SX

Guest Speakers Charlie Pedlar (Physiologist) & Nick Anderson



Midlands - Wednesday 17th January 2018

Time: 7.00pm to 9.30pm

Birmingham University, B15 2TT

Guest Speakers Bud Baldaro & Nick Anderson



North  - Wednesday 24th January 2018

Time: 7.00pm to 9.30pm

Leeds University, LS1 3HE

Guest Speakers Andi Drake (Coach and Physiologist) & Nick Anderson



East- Wednesday 31st January 2018

Time: 7.00pm to 9.30pm

Anglia Ruskin University, CB1 1PT

Guest Speakers Nick Anderson & TBC


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