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Phil Martin

Phil Martin

Runner

What got you into running? And what keeps you doing it?
I’ve always been interested in sport and have played football since an early age to a rather mediocre standard (although I have scored at Highbury) A lack of natural ability and a 20 a day cigarette habit have meant that my footballing career hasn’t progressed any further than Sunday morning pub football. At the age of 32, upon hearing the news that a friend had been diagnosed with bowel cancer, I made what was to become a life changing decision. To raise money for the Charity Beating Bowel Cancer I signed up for The London to Paris bike ride having barely been on a bicycle since my school days.Training for this I quickly realised 1) A mountain bike is not the weapon of choice for long distance cycling. 2) Smoking 20 Benson and Hedges gold every day is not the diet of champions. Especially asthmatics. 3) I loved cycling, this was indeed a true shock. After these realisations I managed to borrow a road bike from a work colleague, I knocked the cigarettes on the head and knuckled down and started putting some serious mileage in on the bike. I completed the challenge and by the time I rode down the Champs Elysees I had got the bug for cycling. This unearthed a side of me that I never knew existed and a real passion to push my body to see what it and my mind was capable of. I took on a few cycling challenges before hearing the words Ultra Marathon! I had previously had no interest in running before unless it was after a little round white ball, but for some reason, the sheer lunacy of running 69 miles in 24 hours filled me with excitement. I joined my local running club Bushfield Joggers and started to train. Despite having never attempted a marathon, 9 months after joining Bushfield in June 2014 I ran Rat Race’s The Wall completing the 71 miles in a time of 13 hours, 55 minutes and 27 seconds. Within a week of completing The Wall I had set my sights on my next challenge which was to run The Worlds Oldest, Biggest and arguably most famous Ultra Marathon Comrades which alternates each year between an up and down run from the South African cities of Durban to Pietermaritzburg and vice versa. I signed up for 90th ever Comrades due to take place in 2015, knowing that 56 miles up hill in the African sun would be my toughest challenge yet. One of the criteria for Comrades is that you must have done a marathon in the run up to the event which also determines your starting pen. My 1st attempt at this and my 1st ever marathon was going bang on track as I was on course for a sub 3 hour debut until I collapsed at mile 23 unable to continue. It seems the combination of a virus in the week prior to the race and an unusually hot October’s day was too much for my body. My 2nd attempt saw me fare somewhat better completing the Manchester marathon in 2:52:16. It seemed, purely by fluke, that I had stumbled upon something I was half decent at. I completed Comrades in 9 hours, 28 minutes and 59 seconds and it was brutal. However the process of training for it helped me make massive leaps forwards with my running and in the aftermath of Comrades I saw my Personal Best’s at every distance tumble and have since managed to win 4 British Masters titles 2 for the half marathon and two for the marathon distances. I still have a burning desire to push the body to see what it can achieve and have developed a true passion for running. My main focus in 2017 is to keep improving and hopefully break 2:30 at Berlin in September.

What is your typical training routine?
I generally run most days and during the week often train twice a day. I find it the easiest way to fit in the mileage that I need around my job. I tend to average 70-90 miles per week and always include relevant speedwork to whatever I am training for.

Do you run with a club or a group?
I am part of the Torq Performance Running Team, I also run for Peterborough Athletic and we have a strong group who I train with on a Tuesday. Training with people like this really helps you develop as a runner as there is always someone to push you. I also have a small group at work who join me on lunchtime social runs but I equally love getting out on my own and putting in the miles to get myself race ready.

Where's the strangest place you've run?
I've ran almost from one coast of England to the other when i did the Ultra marathon The Wall, which follows Hadrians Wall, that was pretty strange. Finishing on the Quayside on Newcastle on a Saturday night with loads of drunk Geordies holloring and cheering as i staggered to the finish was something I'll never forget.

What song, if any, is guaranteed to make you run faster?
Chariots of Fire - goes without saying. One of my greatest running moments was at the start of Comrades where they play this at the start, it really makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Do you run for the fun of it? Or for the results?
Initially it was for the fun of it and to help raise money for charity. However as I've improved it's definitely now a bit of both. I always have a race that I'm training for and goals to work towards but sometimes you have to remember to relax, not worry about speed and get out on the trails for the sheer joy of running. We were born to run!

What is the best bit of advice you've had from another runner?
"You don't know what you're capable of. Don't put limits on yourself, keep training and who knows what you can do."

What simple advice would you give to a new or novice runner?
Have realistic but challenging goals that you really want to achieve. It's this that will provide you with the motivation to get out and run when the rain is coming down sideways or you just feeling like slobbing on the sofa.

What is your favourite piece of SOAR kit?
I love the look of the rain jacket, living and training in England rain is always going to be a regular part of your training so a jacket that helps combat the elements is a massive necessity.

 

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