Tag Archives: London

Preparing for London and Avoiding Fake Injuries

by Paul Thompson

Back in January I was in Boulder CO.. I was there to plan and kick start my 2017 campaign. I landed at Denver International Airport (DIA) late morning. It was snowing, there was a 13 -inch deep carpet of snow and it was -17C. I arrived, as I explained a few weeks before, unsure whether to run any marathon in ’17, let alone which one, and when. After 10 minutes with coach Lee Troop I was doing London on April 23. It speaks volumes for Troopy’s power of persuasion and my belief in him. It was 14 January, 14 weeks to London.

Flatirons, Boulder under blanket of snow

It’s now eight weeks to London. Yesterday I closed out an 80 mile week with an easy 23 miles in Central Park. It was almost 70F, the sun was out, I was running (and talking!) with Urban Athletics team mates and Mike McManus, and I was injury free. Life is good. Let’s hope it stays like that.

On January 14,  Troopy said if I was to run a marathon in ’17 better it be a big occasion one. I ran 2:32:02 in ’16 at the super fast Greater Manchester and they were keen to have me back. But London is arguably the world’s greatest marathon and I get to join brother Steve, Jordanian friend Mo’ath Alkhawaldeh, and Troopy’s top charge Laura Thweatt. Some top M50 Brits are also running London, most notably Graham Green. Graham’s currently logging 120 miles a week and like me aiming for 2:30. I hope we can help each other.

In my last post I flagged some potential target races for ’17. Those targets are clearer now. In addition to London, I’ll aim to run the half marathon (and maybe XC) at the European Masters Athletics Non-Stadia Champs in Denmark and run as many of the NYRR club championship races as I can and, in turn, hopefully help Urban Athletics retain the masters’ team title we collected a few days ago at The Hard Rock Cafe, Times Square.


Urban Athletics award winning masters’ team

At The Hard Rock , Urban Athletics team mates turned out in force and in full voice to support their 12 nominees. We clinched the masters’ team award and six individual awards. I won the M50-54 to add to the one from last year and the 9, of of 10, won while in my forties.


L to R: Matt Chaston (M45-49 winner), me (M50-54 winner), Carlo Agostinetto (Ultra winner), Jonathan Kline (M55-59 winner), Javier Rodriguez (M40-44 winner) and Aaron Mendelsohn (M40-44 nominee)

In the past few days team mates, in particular project manager Moses Lee and dentist Ramin Talib, have asked how I avert injury. Truth is I’m not immune. Since 2011 I’ve had a constant battle with IT band issues and in early 2013, when I last attempted to train for London, was plagued with sciatica. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten wiser with age. But I’d be kidding myself. Sciatica proved stubborn and only went away when an accident forced me to take 6 weeks off.

My IT band issue is firmly under control thanks to regular visits to DrStu, a Bedford Hills based chiropractor, and a DIY self maintenance routine. My routine focuses on strengthening, rather than stretching, of glutes and hips. It comprises some gluteal exercises (given to me by Heather North when I tripped to Boulder before the Bronx 10 last September), together with some foam rolling and calf raises. The routine is repeated 3-4 times and takes 12-15 minutes on the floor of my lounge while watching some fake news.

In sum my routine looks like this (videos by Heather of her husband Ewen):

1. Glute max – 2 of following for 60 seconds, both sides and repeated: http://youtu.be/96sud2L5jiI

2. Glute med – 2 of following for 60 seconds, both sides and repeated:

3. Foam rolling – light rolling focused on mid-IT band. Note: I do not overdo it as this article cautions: https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/your-it-band-is-not-the-enemy-but-maybe-your-foam-roller-is/

4. Calf raises – 60 seconds, both sides and repeated: http://www.dummies.com/health/exercise/how-to-do-the-standing-calf-raise/

Well that’s all for now. Trump’s back on the TV so it’s time to roll and stop faking it.



The London Olympics: The Final Score

By Paul Thompson and Shamala Kandiah Thompson

We are just back from a week of soaking up the magic of the London Olympics.  We hadn’t planned to be in London for the Olympics until the eleventh hour so we didn’t have any tickets. Fortunately some of the events we were most interested in – the men and women’s marathons and the triathlon – just required turning up early enough to get roadside seats. Plus we knew we’d be able to watch other events live on the BBC with friends and family gathered around.

It was wet and cold but we still enjoyed watching the women’s marathon.

At the start of these Olympics there were the usual naysayers (including ‘Mitt the Twit‘, as The Sun nicknamed him) and negative media articles: not enough security personnel, an overloaded public transport system, strikes threatening to disrupt travel to the venues, an unreliable online ticketing system, and unfilled seats. Instead from the whimsical opening ceremony to the grand finale of a closing ceremony the games delivered. Here’s our assessment with scores out of 5 for each criteria.

Bright pink signs directing people to the Olympic venues were all over London.

Organization                       4/5
The UK spent the last seven years preparing for the last two weeks. Yet heading into Heathrow we were expecting the worst: it typically runs at close to capacity without the Olympics. And what did we find? We sped through immigration and were out of the airport in record time. Sure there were crowds on the London Underground but trains kept running, with minor isolated delays. Bright pink signs pointed spectators in the right direction to event venues. Hundreds of volunteers provided information with big smiles. The only real beef was the luck, time and determination you needed to get a ticket via the online ticketing system. Lord Coe put this down to 2 million people trying to access it at the same time causing it to crash.

Performances                                                                                             4/5
66 Olympic records and 30 world records were broken. It’s hard to choose among the amazing performances. Given our interest in running, not surprisingly many of our favorite moments come from track and field. Usain Bolt proved once again that he is the fastest man in the world. Meanwhile Mo Farah’s incredible double on home turf will long be etched in our memories: we sped through JFK airport to catch the first and were brought us to our feet in a friend’s lounge watching the second. The record breaking women’s 4 x 100 metres and David Rudisha’s  800 metres were  also breathtaking.

We were in a great spot to watch the cycling leg of the triathlon.

But the highlight for us was watching the Brownlee brothers, Alistair (24) and Jonathan (22), getting gold and bronze medals in the triathlon. We joined 100s of thousands in Hyde Park for an electrifying experience. Standing by the side of the road, close enough to touch the cyclists as they went by, we witnessed history in the making. Seeing the finish on a big screen with thousands of others made us feel an integral part of the action.

Big screens like this one in Hyde Park came in very useful when the crowds made it difficult to get a good view of the athletes.

Plenty of smiles and Union flags were seen during the Olympics.

Olympic Spirit         5/5
An extraordinary sense of happiness and pride filled Britain during the Olympics.  Pessimism had been blown away by the success of its athletes in cycling, track, boxing, rowing, sailing and equestrian events. A country that had gotten used to failing to live up to sporting expectations was suddenly basking in the glow of 29 gold medals . Team GB’s overall medal count was the highest since 1908 – then one third of the participants were from the UK.

The Union flag proudly adorned clothing, faces and buildings in a show of support to the athletes. But thousands of foreign supporters, many with signs and banners, were conspicuous too – in stadiums, on the tube, on pavements, and by roadside.

Flags of many nations were seen along the marathon route.

An exhausting amount of cheering was apparent at every event. Sometimes the slowest got the loudest cheers from crowds that valued participation as much as winning. And, as the men’s marathon testified, for many spectators what mattered most was just being there and being part of the atmosphere – often times one could barely see anything!

The Olympic Stadium has changed the skyline in the East End.

Venues                       5/5
The Olympic events were held in some of Britain’s most iconic settings. Greenwich Park, London’s oldest Royal Park hosted the equestrian events and the pentathlon. A beach volleyball arena was constructed in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade which dates from 1475. Equally impressive were the new structures built at Olympic Park such as the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre. These has given a new lease of life to the East End, one of its poorest and most dilapidated areas of London.

Like Sydney and Beijing before it, London got to show off its famous landmarks during the road races. In London the marathon course took runners through central London with views of Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace.

A runner going by St Paul’s in the men’s marathon.

Heading back to New York still on an Olympic high we were quickly brought down to earth by a delayed fight and slow baggage arrivals. British Airways and JFK could learn a thing or two from the Olympic organizing committee!

Things We Do for Love

By Paul Thompson

I’m writing this while in Las Vegas. On Sunday Sham and I had a 16 hour day, most of it on a bus, day tripping to the Grand Canyon. It was not my idea of fun but today is Sham’s birthday and this was one of those things she’s always wanted to do. And I missed our anniversary last week. The things we do for…

This brings me onto the topic of the sacrifices me make for the things we love – like running. Often balancing life, as most people know it, and running is almost impossible. There often isn’t enough time or energy to do them both. I constantly find myself shoe–horning runs into a hectic day. And I know many of you do too. Here’s a recent example – a 7 day, 4 city work trip taking in London, Brussels, Vienna and concluding with a long weekend in London (to catch the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee).

My flight out of JFK, New York was at 10:55pm. I’d run 11 miles at 8am earlier that day at Rockefeller Preserve. It was now late and I was tired as I settled into my seat as the plane taxied on the runway. After a restless 2 hours sleep, dinner and breakfast, and a movie I touched down at T5 London Heathrow.

We connected with the gate at 11am. I had a 1pm meeting and had arranged to meet in the lobby of my hotel – the Renaissance St Pancras. I jogged from gate to Border control, caught the Heathrow Express, then the tube from Paddington to Kings Cross and after a 5 minute walk arrived in the lobby. At 1pm. It felt like I’d just won the Amazing Race.

After a 3 hour meeting I then headed to my room, got changed and hit the streets of London for a 10 mile run taking in Regents Park and Primrose Hill.

Arriving back at 5:45pm, I then showered, checked work emails and met a colleague in the lobby for drinks. After a few drinks and dinner at the world’s longest champagne bar I got back to my room at 11:30pm. I was asleep before I hit the pillow. At 6am the next morning my alarm bell rang. For a brief moment I contemplated having a snooze. But my conscience got the better of me and before long I was at it again. Running.

And 2 weeks later here I am again. The alarm rang out at 5am today: the only time running in Vegas is bearable at this time of year. And once again I spent a few moments battling with my conscience. And once again it won and I was back out there. The things we do for…

(Sham’s Footnote: Paul was impressed with the Grand Canyon. He’s now wants to do a rim to rim run!)