Her name is…


Cool passport stamp!

All in all if I said the whole Rio experience was beyond brilliant it would be an understatement. I know it sounds cheesy and far fetched but it was everything I had dreamed it would be and then about 100 times more. It truly blew my mind!

I had left my training base up in Font Romeu under a bit of a dark cloud having taken a tumble and spent a stressful 48 hours getting checked out. Thankfully everything was OK. My knee was a bit sore from bashing it but a day or two of rest and an aqua run session and I was back in the game. I knew I was in very good shape and all the rest of my preparations had gone very well.so an extra day or two of rest at this point would do no harm.


Staying cool at the holding camp

I always said that once I got to Heathrow to fly to Brazil that everything would hit me and it would all feel real. However, checking in for our flight behind Chris Froome and having Andy Murray and Princess Anne on my flight just made the whole thing seem even more surreal than ever!!

The holding camp at Belo Horizonte was great. It was a BOA camp so we were staying with some of the other sports though because of the competition schedules it was largely athletics that was there whilst I was there. We had our own opening ceremony party in the town where we got to wear our lovely Stella McCartney outfits and watch the ceremony on a big screen in an auditorium. The cheer which went up as GB matched on was incredible.


Just chilling…

I moved down to Rio on the Thursday before my race. Walking into the village sent shivers down my spine. I kind of knew what to expect from staying in the village at Glasgow Commonwealth Games but this was so much more. Block after block of apartments all decked out in each teams colours. GB had a whole block to themselves and all the balconies had Union Jacks on them. The garden area outside had been decked out with artificial grass, pool table, table football and Union Jack deckchairs with large screen TV to watch BBC coverage of the games. The entrance had a giant TEAM GB rug and there was special TEAM GB Brompton bikes for us to use to get around the village. We had use of shared swimming pools which became very popular as people finished their competitions.


Belo Horizonte = beautiful horizon

The food hall – the one thing that everyone asks about! – was HUGE and catered for all types of tastebuds, apart from cake, they didn’t do good cake!!! It was open 24/7 and despite catering for 11,000 athletes it never felt crowded and you could always find a seat with ease. The food was good but pretty bland which is what you need before competing but it wasn’t the best once you had finished and were looking for some good old pig out food. Luckily there was a free McDonalds in the village plaza to help with this. This was one of the things that I had been looking forward to! I’m not one to eat McDonald’s normally, I maybe have one a year. But you hear the stories of all the different athletes eating the free McDonalds at the Olympic Games and you feel that you need to take part just as part of the whole Olympic experience. Great marketing from McDonalds as thousands of athletes hit social media with photos of them tucking into McDonald feasts!! The only problem was that it was only open 9am – 9pm and as people completed their competitions the queues got bigger and bigger. Some days they were up to 3 hours long!! I didn’t want free McDonalds THAT much!!After my race I managed to enjoy the rest of the games experience. I got around to see a few different sports. I went to the velodrome for the last night of the cycling and saw Team GB win a few medals, I watched a few games of tennis and I went along to watch the hockey girls make the final. I also helped with the feed stations for the men’s marathon, no better way to get a ringside seat than stand in the pouring rain and hand out bottles to our guys!!


British House 

I also visited a few of the hospitality houses, the best of which was Beats. We were really lucky to get on the guest list for this one as it was VERY popular, but luckily we made it. The house was AMAZING and we had a great chilled out afternoon and of course came away with our lovely free Union Jack Beats headphones!!

MyMam and Dad had made a late decision to come out. My Dad had always looked into coming over but finances were a big stumbling block. My Mam on the other hand had always said she was too scared to travel to the other side of the world and didn’t like the horror stories she had heard.

In the end they were very lucky to be given 4 nights free hotel accommodation from Proctor and Gamble which really eased the financial burden. It meant that both of them could come over more or less for the price my Dad was going to pay for just him.


We found some rings in the village…

Once they got there they absolutely loved it. They were shouting with such pride every time I raced past. The last time I went past them my Mam shouted that she was so proud of me. I could hear her voice crack as she said it and I had to fight really hard to keep my own emotions under control because of it. Last thing I wanted with about 12km to go was to be bursting out in tears!!

Village at night

Village at night

I finally got to do some touristy stuff on the final Saturday when I went up to see Christ the Redeemer. You can’t go all the way to Rio and not see it! It was well worth the trip as the views from up the top were amazing! We had planned on doing Sugarloaf Mountain on the Monday morning before we left but when we woke up the weather was crap so we decided it wasn’t worth it plus it would have been pushing it to get back in time for our bus to the airport!!

Being tourists

Being tourists

The flight home was a perfect closing to the whole experience. We were travelling home on a special chartered BA flight – VictoRIOus – complete with gold nose cone. As with most other overnight long haul flights I’ve been on, I was expecting people to stay awake for some food and then get some sleep and not wake up until an hour or so before landing in Heathrow. This was completely different!!

We started the flight with a champagne toast from the Captain and the singing of the National Anthem. That kickstarted the party which went on until we hit a bit of turbulence and the seatbelt sign had to be switched on. I’ve never experienced a party flight like it. We managed to go through 77 bottles of champagne!!


Getting soaked at the closing ceremony 

The BOA really know how to do Olympics. When you know what goes on behind the scenes it’s no surprise that the team was the most successful for a long time and we were the first Nation to ever beat the medal tally of a previous home Games. Even though I didn’t add to that medal tally, I am still immensely proud to say that I was part of that team. I played my part in its success and hopefully I have inspired someone to follow their dreams the same way I did back in 1992 watching the Barcelona Games.

It took me nearly 25 years to finally reach that dream but I did make it and now I am an Olympian and no one can ever take that away from me. I will forever be proud of what I have achieved both in Rio and my journey getting there.

The only tattoo I would ever get!

The only tattoo I will ever get!

Of course the question everyone is now asking is what’s next? Tokyo 2020? Well I certainly have no plans to retire just yet but whether my body will let me go on for another 4 years in another thing. I would love to do the World Championships in London next year but apart from that it’s just a case of taking it a year at a time. As long as I am still performing and most importantly still enjoying it then I will go on for as long as the body will allow me.

Proud parents

VERY proud parents

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Rio – the race…

The big one, the Olympic Marathon 2016…

I had spent the last 3 months trying to convince myself that it was just any other race so that I didn’t get too worked up about it and waste too much nervous energy.  Training had gone well in the tight turn around from the Virgin Money London Marathon and I had put in 2 solid races at Blaydon and the European Half marathon championships. But this was the focus, the one which I’d dreamed of for over 25 years.

"That'll make an awesome Instagram"

“That’ll make an awesome Instagram”

The weather forecast said it was going to be pretty warm – 26 degrees at the start and rising to around 30 degrees by the time I finished. Add this to the predicted humidity levels of around 85% and it wasn’t looking towards a comfortable race! As it turned out temperatures hit a high of 34 which I can confirm is pretty hot for running a marathon!!

Thanks to the support of British Athletics, British Olympic Association, London Marathon and the National Lottery, I was well prepared. I’d been up in Font Romeu for 2 months where we had had days in the high to late 20’s and then I spent 11 days in Belo Horizonte where temperatures topped 30 alongside some high humidity. I’d practiced pre race cooling using ice vests, iced wrist bands and had tried using a high sodium drink which acts as a plasma expander to help your body cope with high temperatures better.

On race day, I completely forgot to take the wrist bands and sodium drink with me so it was down to the ice vest and lots of ice cubes under a cap to try and cool the body down during my brief warm up and before the race start.


Once we got through the pretty chaotic call room – queues for transponders, led to queues for number change (font on originals was too small), led to queues for athletes involved in the call forwards! There was time to pour a final bottle of water over the head before running to the start-line just in time for the gun to go. This left me towards the back of the field but I was fine with that as my race plan was to go out conservatively and pick up in the final quarter with the aim of finishing strongly and passing those who had over cooked it early on.

As we didn’t know how the heat was going to effect me in the latter stages I was prepared to go out as slow as 6 minute miles to make sure that I didn’t over do things early on. I started at what felt like a jog but when my watch bleeped for the first mile I was quite surprised to see 5.43 on it. I did ease back a bit and even though I felt that I was still at a jog my next mile was still only seconds slower.

On a day like this I knew that hydration was going to make a huge difference to performance so I made sure that I took fluid on board at every opportunity. We had our personal bottles every 5km and there was sponges and bottled water in the 5k in between. I made sure I drank all of my personal carb and electroltye drink and grabbed a bottle of water and took a few mouthfuls from that and poured the rest over my head, neck, wrists and thighs, the key trigger points for cooling.

I settled into a nice little pack containing fellow Brit Sonia Samuels and we all worked well together. There had been no conversation between us about working together but we are pretty evenly matched over the marathon so it naturally fell that we ended up in the same group.


When we hit the loop part of the course I remember looking up and seeing Sugarloaf Mountain looming over up and thinking to myself “that would make a great Instagram!” Thankfully my teammate Lennie Waite clearly thought the same and managed to get a snap of me running with it in the background. There is also a few awesome shots with Christ the Redeemer photobombing us!

As you can tell by the above, I was feeling very relaxed at this point. In fact I was pretty relaxed the full way. The crowd support was amazing with loads of Union Jacks being waved and people from all over the world supporting us with shouts. I managed to pick my parents and club mate out of the crowd and give them a wave each time I went by. Sonia’s husband Nick managed to run nearly every step of that 30k section of the course alongside us and whilst he was there supporting Sonia and not me, his presence alongside us really spurred me on.

Just before 30km I sensed that the others in the group were starting to fade a bit and the pace was dropping. I was quite aware that with 12km to go any extra effort at this point could come back and bite me on the bum in the closing stages so I just kept the effort levels and pace the same and this opened up a small gap between me and the other girls. It meant I ran the rest of the race by myself but I was feeling really good and strong so I was ok with that. Girls ahead had been coming back to us from as early on as 10k so I used those to help keep focus once we left the crowded part and entered quieter parts of the course.


Although I slowed very slightly over the last 10k I kept the effort strong right through to 40km when I lost about 20 seconds looking for my drink bottle. This station wasn’t manned by our team staff and I didn’t spot my bottle. Each water station was a good 80metres long to fit in tables for every country participating. On the previous stations we’d had one of our team staff manning the table and waving to us to identify where they were. With there being no-one at this station I had to slow down quite a bit to try and spot our table and my bottle. I totally failed on this and missed my bottle completely. From a nutrition viewpoint it wasn’t a big deal that I missed the bottle as I didn’t need any extra energy at that point, I was still feeling good. But with the heat increasing all the time I needed something to wet my mouth. Luckily I managed to get back into rhythm quickly, grabbed a sponge a little further on and finished strong.

On the long road up to the finish stadium there was a few protests going on. At about 25 miles a woman managed to get onto the course just ahead of me and although she wasn’t impeding the race security weren’t happy for her to be there so 4 guys kindly carted her off! A little further up as I turned the final corner into the Sambodromo stadium for the long run in another protester stuck a placard out which hit me in the face! Luckily It didn’t cause any damage and I was still strong enough to swerve enough without hitting it too badly but it certainly wasn’t the best thing to happen with half a mile to go in a marathon.

The finish straight was LONG!! Even though we’d ran down it at the start I hadn’t remembered how long it actually was so as I turned the corner I start to put a bit of a spurt on thinking I had  200 metres at most left only to still be running for another 2 minutes or so! After a bit I realised that it was quite long so eased off the gas and just enjoyed the crowds and the finish. I crossed the line with a huge smile on my face and I loved it so much that the first words I said to the waiting media guys was ‘can I do it again?”

My immediate reaction was that I had a very strong race and I was very happy with the way I had ran and where I had finished. I had planned to go off steady and make my way through the field which I did very well. I was 81st at 5k and finished 27th out of 157 starters. Considering I went into the race ranked 47th and there was only 2 people finished in front of me with slower PB’s meant I had performed well above what was expected. For the stat geeks amongst you my mile splits can be found here: https://www.strava.com/activities/676313104

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However, now that I can sit back and reflect a bit more I think I could have probably pushed on a little bit more in the first half. I was feeling very relaxed and strong but was worried about what the heat would do to me in the final 10k. I’m not used to running in temperatures like that so it was an unknown as to how I would cope. Yes, I spent nearly 2 weeks prior to my race in Brazil to acclimatise but my training at this point wasn’t long or of a high intensity to be able to judge how I would react so caution was the best approach.

The other thing that is really annoying me is losing the time at the 40k feed station looking for my bottle. I didn’t need this bottle and the time which I lost looking for it meant that the couple of girls just in front of me, who I’don’t spent time closing in on, got a little further away again. Had they still been in catching distance I would have pushed harder right to the line instead of stepping off the gas in the last mile. Top 20 was out of reach but top 25 could have been possible. But of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

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Catch up…

NB: I wrote this back in July before heading out to Brazil but never got round to posting it. 


I can’t believe how fast time has gone by, it seems like just yesterday that I was running down The Mall finishing the Virgin London Marathon. But no, that was 3 months ago now and here I am ready to pack my bags to head out to Rio, via the holding camp in Belo Horizonte, for the worlds biggest sporting party – the OLYMPIC GAMES.


It still doesn’t seem to have fully sunk in. Some days I wake up and need to pinch myself to make sure I am not still dreaming when I see my large hold-all, emblazoned with TEAM GB across it with a name tag saying ALYSON DIXON – ATHLETE attached, lying by my bed. Other days I wake up with a broad grin knowing that I’m going to be competing in the pinnacle of my sport. And then there’s the days when I wake up in a cold sweat, scared of what is lying ahead, doubts running through my mind, worried that I am not going to do myself justice out there or worse, let my family, friends and country down.

Thankfully the later is getting less and less and as training has progressed, my confidence has grown. You do feel a large burden of pressure is placed on you. You are living the dreams of thousands of people – a life I myself have dreamed of for over a quarter of a century. There’s only EVER been just over 5500 summer Olympians in GB, it’s a very special family to be part of and once you join, you never leave.

Launching the Sunderland Strollers Run to Rio charity campaign with local school children

On the whole the excitement is building. We’re now in the ‘Olympic period’ which means that official Team GB kit is now part of my everyday attire and every time I put on something with that’s lions head roaring the sense of pride and passion is overwhelming. I’m just rounding off a great training block up in Font Romeu where most of the endurance team have been based for the last 2 months or so. I myself, have been here since just after the Blaydon race, about 2 months by the time I leave. It’s a great group and there’s a real good vibe amongst everyone. I love being on the track when everyone is down there training. Sharing the track with some of the worlds best, shouting encouragement to each other whilst getting your breathe back during a recovery. There’s a great buzz around these guys and everyone’s positivity bounces of each other and seeing the likes of Charlie Grice and Eilish McColgan smash their PB’s and Laura Muir go out and smash the British 1500m record has added to that buzz.


A high 5 from my number 1 fan, nephew Charlie, after winning Blaydon.

I knew that the build up to this race was always going to be tough as it was such a short turn around after London. Prior to London I didn’t want to look too much into plans as I didn’t want to jinx anything or count my chickens. I’d pencilled in Blaydon and the European Half Marathon champs as two races I’d like to do no matter the outcome of London.

Going into Blaydon I didn’t know what shape I was in. I’d only been back running about 3 weeks and done one reasonable tempo and one shocking track session. Somehow I managed to pull it out of the bag and win again. Don’t ask me how. A watch malfunction which led to me being told I ran the 1st mile in 5.23 rather than the true 5.05 probably helped as it made me believe that I was taking it steady rather than smashing it – it’s amazing the tricks your mind can play on your body!!


Recovering in the sun post European Half Marathon Championships in Amsterdam – it was a hot one!!

So I went up to Font Romeu knowing I was in decent nick speed wise, just needing to pull together a few long runs and the job would be done. I always pick up a lot of fitness at altitude so knew that my biggest concern was not to over do things, especially in those first few weeks with the Euro champs on the horizon. Training went well, I put together some good miles, long runs were strong, tempos were where they should be and track sessions were hitting times.

Amsterdam was a tough race. It turned out be very hot on the day – 26 degrees out on the road. The course wasn’t the fastest with lots of 90 degree turns and tricky little inclines over the canal bridges. The heat was great prep for Rio. It allowed me to see how my body would react to those temperatures. I managed quite well, making sure I took on board enough fluids the day and morning before my race and also at every feed station out on the course. I had a solid run. I didn’t panic when everyone went off like bullets. My legs weren’t capable of going with the pace which was a good thing as there was a lot of casualties later on due to the fast first 5k. No one ran fast that day but the girls I finished around had much faster PB’s than me, so I was happy.


Running strong in the Amsterdam sun

The day after Euros I went to Birmingham to do my kitting out. This is something I’d been really looking forward to and made the whole selection seem that much more real. I’m sharing an apartment with Laura Muir up in Font and she had been filling me in on the process of the whole day and which goodies not to miss out on! From walking in to the NEC under a HUGE “WELCOME TEAM GB” banner to leaving with my stash 5.5 hours later the whole experience was great. The amount of kit we got given is crazy – 3 large bags full with everything from a toothbrush to your formal suit and shoes. Because I was coming straight back up to Font I had to leave most of it in Birmingham to be taken to Heathrow for me so I haven’t even seen a lot of it. I’ve tried out my racing kit though – I don’t want to wait until race day to find out it chafes. Thankfully it doesn’t, it fits like a glove and feels great, but being Adidas I knew that would be the case! 😉

Track session in Font with some great pacing by Gary

Track session in Font with some great pacing by Gary

Back up in Font my final block of training has gone well. I now just need to get through a 11.5hours flight to Rio and then connection to Belo and it will be taper time. We are really lucky that we have some of the best support staff in the world and everything has been looked after for us. We’ve been given detailed traveled plans including when to nap, when to wear eye masks or blue light reducing glasses, when to expose ourselves to light etc to help us through the extensive travel and to adapt to the new time zone once we arrive in Brazil.


Check out at the end of a great kitting out experience

From what I’m seeing and hearing so far the holding camp is amazing! It’s not just an athletics camp it is a Team GB camp so we are there with other sports just like we will be in the village. There was been some bad press about the village not being complete and safe for the athletes to move into but we are being reassured by Team GB that everything is fine and the athletes who are in there already are confirming this.

Originally I wasn’t going to have any family out in Rio to see me compete but we’ve been really lucky in that my mam and dad have gained hotel accommodation thanks to the amazing generosity of Proctor & Gamble. Finances was always the main stumbling block stopping my parents from coming out to support me but now with only their flights to pay for (still a hell of a lot!!) they can be there on the road side to cheer me. I honestly couldn’t be more excited and happy about this. My parents have been there for me every step of this journey. They have always encouraged me but never ever pushed me, it’s always been my choice to pursue my dreams. But they have given me unconditional support physically, finally and most importantly emotionally. They do stress me out at times, especially my mams nervous worrying but I know that whatever I do they will always be there for me and will forever be proud of me. My mam is stepping waaay out of her comfort zone to come out to Rio and that shows how much this means to her and I will be forever grateful for their love and support, I could never have done any of this without them.


Final long run with some special support from my mam and dad

I guess that as I stand in Heathrow on Monday morning, suited and booted in the red, white and blue of Team GB with my bags packed and ready to go, then it will all be real, I will be making that final step to becoming an Olympian. It’s a moment I’m going to savour along with every minute of the rest of the next 3 weeks. The race is my victory lap for all the years of hard work I’ve done, the time I’ve dedicated to making it this far and all the stumbles I’ve had along the way.

Back in 1992 I sat and watched the Barcelona Olympics on TV, I went out and bought myself the replica tracksuit and began dreaming of one day wearing the genuine article for real. I always dreamed, but never truly believed it would happen, now it has. I’m living proof that dreams do come true. It takes a lot of hard work, belief and never giving up but eventually you get there.

For over 24 years I have dreamt of becoming an Olympian, now I am finally about to become one…don’t dream your life, live your dreams…



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Dreams do come true…

The moment 25 years of hard work and dreams come true...priceless!

The moment 25 years of hard work and dreams come true…priceless!

Wow…what a few days!!

I don’t really know where to start. I’M GOING TO THE OLYMPICS!!! 25 years of hard work and dreaming, all came to fruition on and boy does it feel good!!

Since crossing the finish line in the shadow of Buckingham Palace on Sunday morning, my life has been a total whirlwind. I’ve been passed from pillar to post with what seems like everyone wanting a piece of me. My phone has not stopped and it got to the point where I had to set up a call divert to ease the load. Thankfully things are starting to settle and what I’ve achieved is starting to sink in!

The race itself was amazing. Beforehand people where telling me that they couldn’t see me not making it but I know only too well that the marathon is a tough mistress and she can rip you apart at any given moment. I was confident but I wasn’t cocky and I certainly wasn’t taking anything for granted.

I had a game plan. Sit in on the first half and cover any moves the others make. Aim to get to 18 miles feeling good, strong and relaxed and then at 20 miles put in 3-4 hard miles if needed to try and break up anyone else who was still with me.

Running strong along the Embankment

Running strong along the Embankment

The race played out just like that. I felt so so good in the first half, I was floating, relaxed, loving the crowd support. By 16 miles it was down to myself, Sonia and Charlie. At 20 miles I pushed on and Charle dropped off the pace. I held my effort through to 23 miles where I saw some of my club mates going crazy waving and shouting. I was still feeling so good that I gave them a thumbs up and a cheeky stick out of the tongue!

Going through the last few miles all I could think about was my Granda and my Uncle Derek and how proud and excited they would have been to see it. Coming up to 800 to go I knew I had to put in one last kick to get a gap and cross the line first Brit. Turning the corner into The Mall I looked at the giant screen and saw I had a gap. I knew my family were in the grandstand seating so I scanned along for them and spotted my Dad holding up a very excited Charlie (my nephew). I gave them a wave and shout of ‘I’ve done it’ and then the rest was a bit of a blur. I cross the line, threw my hands in the air, done a few fist pumps, managed not to swear live on the BBC and then got a red Virgin money towel thrown around my shoulders and told to pose for a load of photos. I’d done it, I’d achieved my lifelong dream, now was the time to enjoy it!

Sonia followed me over the line 8 seconds later. I gave her a big hug and kept repeating, ‘we’ve done it, we’re going to the Olympics’ she was in tears, I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing at it all.

As I tried to walk away my foot started to cramp so I sat on the kerb to take my shoe off and that was when my own tears started.. It hit me what I’d just done. You spend a lifetime dreaming about how this would feel but until it actually happens you can’t actually imagine it. I was suddenly alone, left to walk down to the media zone where a host of journalists where waiting for me.

The mixture of emotions of two athletes reaching their dreams

The mixture of emotions of two athletes reaching their dreams

There was microphones and cameras thrust in front of me. I didn’t know who I was talking. To or what I was saying, but the smile never left my face. I remember not being able to find the words to describe what I was feeling. I’m not often left gobsmacked but on Sunday I was.

Media eventually stopped and I finally got back to my bag and my kit. When I turned my phone on, I honestly thought it was going to explode. Instead of it bleeping to signal a message it was just one long bleep for about 10 minutes!! There was so many messages coming through that I couldn’t possibly keep up with them all. I’m still trying to go through the but I fear I’ve missed a lot. If I’ve missed your message, I am truly sorry but also very grateful that you took the time to send it.

After a few more interviews with the BBC we finally got to head back to the hotel via river taxis. By the time we got back my family had been hanging around for a few hours. I met them in the bar where we watched the final minutes of the SAFC v Arsenal game and I enjoyed a well earned beer, It wasn’t until the beer went straight to my head that I realised I’d had nothing to eat since 5.30 that morning!

I didn’t sleep that night. My head was buzzing and my legs were twitching. I ended up sat in the bathroom watching the race on BBC iPlayer at 3am on Monday morning. I finally got about 2-3hours sleep and woke up with what felt like the worst hangover ever. I hadn’t had that much to drink the night before but the come down from adrenaline and caffeine, plus dehydration had left me feeling rough.

I didn't know how to celebrate so I let my emotions take over

I didn’t know how to celebrate so I let my emotions take over

I spent most of the day pinching myself to make sure that it wasn’t just all a dream and texting people to ask if it had really happened. Seeing it in newspapers and on the news helped me believe it but I wasn’t getting too excited until I got the official phonecall and letter on Tuesday morning.

Since Tuesday I’ve spent my time doing lots of media. People said to me that becoming an Olympian is life changing but I never believed them until now. Everyone seems to want a piece of this little old lass from Sunderland just now and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

As for running, I’m currently taking a 10-14 day rest period. The Rio marathon is only 14 weeks away. I need to make sure that I am fully recovered both physically and mentally before I start back training. I’m using the time to try and relax and enjoy the moment, this is something I will never experience again and I want to soak up every second of it.

Unfortunately as I was celebrating the tragic news of a runner losing his life came through. Cpt David Seath collapsed at the 23 mile mark and sadly passed away later in hospital. My love and thoughts go out to his friends and family at this sad time and my first run back will be dedicated to his memory.

Of course, this Sunday is the Sunderland 10k and half marathon and I’ll be down there helping out. Today (Friday) I’m helping to pack the 4000 goody bags and on Sunday I will be the official race starter and then hand out the medals at the end.

Victory posing post race

Victory posing post race

To everyone who is running, this is the time for you to relax and prepare yourself for the day. All of your training has been done now. Don’t try and squeeze anymore in, make sure you get to the start-line feeling fresh and ready. Hopefully we won’t have weather like we did last year but just in are we do pack some old clothes which you can leave on until the last minutes and then throw away just before you start.

Remember to eat well in advance to avoid any unwanted stomach troubles. Water and sports drinks will be available on the course and current guidance says that you should drink to thirst rather than gulping down litres in fear of dehydrating. A few sips of water at each station is usually more than enough.

Good luck, enjoy yourself and I hope you achieve what you want to in your race. Don’t go off like Usain Bolt, remember to smile for the cameras as you go and please don’t throw up on me as I give you your medal!!


Once I saw BIg Ben I knew I was on the plane to RIo!

Once I saw BIg Ben I knew I was on the plane to RIo!

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If not now, when? If not me, who?

Posing during the VLM photocall

Posing during the VLM photocall

26.2 miles, 5,109 footsteps, 25,500 heart beats, 36,000 people – The Virgin Money London Marathon – the World’s greatest marathon.
This year, for a select few, it’s extra special as it doubles as the GB Olympic trials. The first two British finishers past the post, providing they have ran the qualifying time of 2.31 since January of last year, will gain automatic qualification.
I’ve ran the time needed, I know what I need to do out on the streets of London. Finish in the top two brits and I’m on the plane to Rio. Anything else and I’m sat at home watching it from the sofa like millions of others.
The training is done. Mind and body are ready. I’ve dared to dream, now it’s time to believe…


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Dealing with disappointment…

We’ve all been there, you’ve put in the training, you’re fired up and raring to go but for whatever reason it’s just does go right on the day.

Last Saturday I represented GB in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. Training has being going really well and I knew I was in great shape so was expecting a good performance. Unfortunately that didn’t pan out.

Preparing for the off just before the rain started

Preparing for the off just before the rain started

I’m not one for making excuses so I’m not going to be blame the dreadful conditions. The only excuse I will use is that I was a bit silly chasing a PB in a championship race with those conditions. I should have known better and changed my targets.

I started off strong and felt great going through 5k in 16.35 which is roughly where I wanted to be. Then we hit a little incline and I lost a lot of ground on the group I had been running with. This left me running solo trying to close those in front down which never happened. I’d slowed a bit by 10k and a lot by 15k. At this point it was just a case of hanging on and trying to pick up anyone in front who was dying more than me. I managed to do that and over took 2 girls but over the same section two girls came from behind and over took me.

By the time we turned back into the wind at 11miles my legs were gone and those last 2 miles felt more like 20! Having your legs go on you at 11miles is not a great sign for an upcoming marathon but I know I won’t be setting off as fast there so I’m not too worried. I managed to out sprint an American over the last 200 metres so I’ll take that as a positive as I don’t often win in sprint outs!

Anyone who watched the BBC coverage will have seen my post race interview where I said I wasn’t happy with my run. A lot of people have said I was being too harsh on myself but when you know that you are in good shape and you are out there representing your country it is very disappointing to run below what you expected to. I’d rather be honest and say that I wasn’t happy with my performance than sugar coat it and say it was a good run when I know it wasn’t and I dare say that there was plenty of people sitting at home saying the same thing about it!

Starting to hurt at around 11 miles

Starting to hurt at around 11 miles

Looking back I suppose it wasn’t too bad a performance, just not what I wanted. I finished 27th, 3rd European and 1st Brit in a time of 72.57. Maybe I was expecting too much from myself but I honestly thought that I could improve on my time and placing from the last championships back in 2014. As I said in my BBC interview I’m not going to panic over it. It’s done, I can’t change it, so I’ve got to put it to the back of my mind and focus on my main target which is London in now less than 4 weeks time.

I know training has gone well. Maybe a little too well and in a way a poor performance at Cardiff could be a blessing in disguise as had I ran really well I could have got carried away and blown things for the big one, London. Instead, I’m sticking to what I have planned out, making sure I’m fully recovered from the weekend, both physically and emotionally before doing anything hard again.

One of the biggest mistakes I can make at this stage is going into a workout still upset about Cardiff and pushing too hard to try and ‘punish’ myself for it. Doing that gains nothing but risks everything. If I start to dig a hole for myself at this stage I don’t have time to climb back out of and its game over before I even get to London.

The finish line is always a welcome sight at the end of a tough race

The finish line is always a welcome sight at the end of a tough race

I’m up in Font Romeu now for my final phase. I don’t get back until a couple of days before London. I love it up here. It’s the perfect environment for training and we have got a great support team around us. Right now there is still a little bit of snow on some of the higher trails but most of my favourites are run able. One of my biggest challenges these next few weeks is staying away from the almond croissants and Nutella crepes overwrite I’ll be standing on the London start-line looking like Mr Blobby!!

So yeah, everyone has disappointing races, but it’s how we recover from them that matters. In these situations you have two options; you either let it get to you, eating away at your confidence or you learn from it, put it in a box in your mind and move on. I’ve always said that one bad run doesn’t make you a bad runner and it’s true. If you get knocked down, you bounce back and show the world what you are capable of. Life would be boring if everything went to plan…

Keep your head high and your goals higher.


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Doesn’t time fly?..

I’m going to start with that really annoying, sorry, it’s been so long since my last entry!…SORRY!!
Nearly 5 months, wow – doesn’t time fly?
A lot has happened but not much has changed. Unfortunately life got a little tough after Berlin as my Grandad was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder a few days before the race. It was tough news to take in so close to an important race but I managed it as best I could and made sure I made him proud out on the roads. Looking back I don’t know how I made it to the start line in one piece mentally, but I did and I got a PB and the qualifying time which I needed so I can’t complain.

Coldest, horrible XC EVER!!

Coldest, horrible XC EVER!!

The next 8 weeks were spent in a rotation of hospital visits and helping my nana and my family out. Needless to say running took a bit of a back seat during this time. I trained when I could but it wasn’t my number one focus like it normally is. Sometimes there are much more important things in life to take up your time. My running became more of a stress relief than having an actual training effect.
Grandad unfortunately passed away at the end of November and life slowly returned to normal. I got back into training and despite being terribly unfit ran at a snow covered North East Cross Country Championships – quite possibly the biggest mistake of my running life!
As the year ended I started to plan out my path to the Virgin London Marathon. I needed to get my focus back. I was lucky enough to be invited onto another training camp in Kenya in January – the perfect kick I needed to get back into a good training routine.

Never forget how lucky you are to be able to do what you love

Never forget how lucky you are to be able to do what you love

Kenya was amazing as usual and I got some great training in. You can catch up with my Kenya trip over on the Sunderland 10k site You can also sign up for one of the races whilst you are there! 🙂
I had planned to race a local 10k on the weekend when I got back to A) see where I was fitness wise and B) hopefully prove that I was in good enough shape to gain selection for the GB team for the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff this weekend. Unfortunately the race was cancelled due to ice on the course so I was left without a race. Luckily I had also planned to do a leg of the North East Road Relay Champs the week after but this was only 2.2 miles so the other end of the distance spectrum to what I was training for and totally out of my comfort zone. My little old marathon legs don’t do short distances like this!
The race came at the end of a big week and I could tell as I set off and my legs took a good mile to get moving. I spent the first lap feeling truly awful but thankfully the legs finally woke up and I got moving and managed to pull off the fastest time of the day.
Thankfully this was enough to give me the nod from the selectors and I was named on the team for the World Half. The World Half had always been pencilled in as a target race before London. Being 4 weeks out from London isn’t perfect timing but it is certainly doable and it’s always a massive honour to represent your country at any race but a home championship is always special and I’m really excited to see what I can do there. Training has gone really well over the last 4 weeks. A good run in Cardiff will set me up nicely for my final block of marathon preparation.

Royal Signal Road Relays (pic credit Paulo running pics)

Royal Signal Road Relays (pic credit Paulo running pics)

I’m heading out to Font Romeu the day after Cardiff to do my final block of training. I’ve always responded well to altitude training and being away from home in the final few weeks before the race means that I am away from all the hustle and bustle of the build-up and it allows me to focus fully on the race and not get distracted by all of the surrounding buzz.
I wouldn’t be able to go on a camp like this without the support of British Athletics and London Marathon who are funding the camp and for that I am extremely grateful. Being a full time athlete is a struggle financially but I am doing everything in my power to give myself the best possible chance of making the team for Rio. Receiving kit from Adidas along with energy drinks and protein recovery shakes from High5, which ensures I can fuel my racing and training correctly, helps to ease the financial burden. A special thanks also to Creative Nature for providing me with some great tasting healthy snack bars to keep me going between meals and CEP for supplying some great bespoke compression kit to help my weary legs recover from all the hard training I am putting in.

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