Uttoxeter’s Eddie Whittaker was for a long time one of North Staffordshire most competitive distance runners.  This is an extract from his training diary in 1987 where over 6 months he improved his marathon time from 2 hours 38 minutes to 2 hours 29 minutes with many tough local races (and extremely good performances by current local standards) along the way.

In his own words: ‘My training log from 4 weeks prior to my 1st marathon in April 1987 through to my 4th and last marathon in September 1987. I didn’t have a coach, trained alone and always on roads. I did have a book titled ‘run a marathon in 12 weeks’ which I used for my 1st marathon. After that it was just instinct and following a routine I had developed. I had no concept of easy, steady or pace runs. All my runs were about 6 minute mile pace unless noted different. All I can say is it worked for me up to a point. In hindsight I trained too hard, never ran easy and ended up injured after my 4th marathon in 20 weeks. Having said that I bloody enjoyed it immensely. Not saying I wouldn’t change anything though.’

Eddie’s training in terms of pace is similar to Rob Deakin’s that I posted recently. However Eddie was a postman, so missed out the daily double training runs (although supplemented with several miles walking), and without Rob’s track training and racing background didn’t have that extra speed reserve to call on. But he was still a fearsome competitor in his day and happy to race anyone as often as he could. Hopefully this training diary extract offers some useful insight into the pros as well as cons of the approach Eddie took at the time. 

Mon 9th March – 6.7 miles – 41 mins (snow and wind)
Tues 10th March – 9 miles – 53 mins 15 secs
Weds 11th March – 14.3 miles – 80 mins 30 secs (5min 40s) pace
Thurs 12th March – 9 miles very easy
Fri 13th March – 9.2 miles incl. 2.3 miles jog / 2x1 mile @ 4.50 pace / 4x0.65 mile in 3 mins / 2.3 miles jog
Sat 14th March – Rest
Sun 15th March – STAFFORD 20 – 1 hour 51 mins 31 secs – 12th place

Mon 16th March – Rest
Tues 17th March – 6.7 miles easy
Weds 18th March – 12.8 miles – 77 mins
Thurs 19th March – 7.3 miles steady
Fri 20th March – 9 miles ‘pacy’ – 55 mins
Sat 21st March – Rest
Sun 22nd March – 20 miles comfortable just over 2 hours

Mon 23rd March – 5 miles
Tues 24th March – 6.7 miles – 39 mins 30 secs not bad
Weds 25th March – 12.8 miles – 72 mins 38 secs – marathon pace
Thurs 26th March – 6.7 miles – 45 mins easy
Fri 27th March – 6.6 miles – 2 miles in 10 mins 43 secs – 4.6 miles easy
Sat 28th March – Rest
Sun 29th March – 14 miles incl. 13.35 miles / 72 mins 28 secs fast

Mon 30th March – 5 miles easy
Tues 31st March – 2.3 miles jog, 1x2 miles @ 5.15 pace, 2.3m jog
Weds 1st April – 6.7 miles
Thurs 2nd April – Rest
Fri 3rd April – 5 miles
Sat 4th April – Rest
Sun 5th April – WOLVERHAMPTON MARATHON. I hadn’t a clue what to expect. I reached 22 miles in 2 hours 2 mins so on track for 2.26. Hit the wall and completed last 4 miles@ 9min pace to finish in 2h 38 mins 10 secs.

Mon 6th April – shuffled 5 miles, legs very stiff
Tues 7th April – Rest
Weds 8th April – 6.7 miles – 40 mins good run.
Thurs 9th April – 8.5 miles incl. 4 miles @ 5mins 15 secs pace
Fri 10th April – 6.7 miles – 43min steady
Sat 11th April – Rest
Sun 12th April – STAFFORD HALF MARATHON. 1 hour 11 mins – 16th place

Mon 13th April – Rest
Tues 14th April – 7.3 miles
Weds 15th April – 7.3 miles
Thurs 16th April – 12.8 miles
Fri 17th April – 6.7 miles all above 4 @ 6 min mile pace
Sat 18th April – 3 mile jog / 6x1 mile avg 4.50 pace
Sun19th April – Rest

Mon 20th April – 6.7 miles
Tues 21st April – 7.3 miles – fast 41 mins 2 secs (5.36 pace)
Weds 22nd April – 9 miles – 57 mins 30 sec pace
Thurs 23rd April – 7.3 miles
Fri 24th April – 6.7miles
Sat 25th April – Rest
Sun 26th April – MAXIMS 7 – 37 mins 17 secs (17th)

Mon 27th April – Rest
Tues 28th April – 7.3 miles
Weds 29th April – 9.3 miles timed (time not put down)!
Thurs 30th April – 7.3 miles
Fri 1st May – easy 5 miles
Sat 2nd May – Rest
Sun 3rd May – UTTOXETER HALF MARATHON – 1 hour 11 mins (2nd)

Mon 4th May – 6.7 miles
Tues 5th May – 7.3 miles
Weds 6th May – 9 miles incl. 7 miles @ 6 min mile pace / 2 miles @ 5 min mile pace
Thurs 7th May – 6.7 miles
Fri 8th May – easy 5 miles
Sat 9th May – Rest
Sun 10th May – LEEK HALF MARATHON – 1hour 13 mins 44 secs (5th)

Mon 11th May – Rest
Tues 12th May – 9 miles – 57 mins easy
Weds 13th May – 11.8 miles in 65 mins 17 secs (5.32 pace) fast
Thurs 14th May – 7.3 miles
Fri 15th May – 2.3 miles jog. 4x1 miles (4.48/4.52/4.42/4.49) 2.3 miles jog
Sat 16th May – 5 miles, 3 of them fast
Sun 17th May – 22 miles, 2 hours 12 mins. My longest ever training run.

Mon 18th May – 7.3 miles
Tues 19th May – 9 miles – 54 mins
Weds 20th May – 7.3 miles fast in 40 mins 30 secs
Thurs 21st May – 9.5 miles – 57 mins 30 secs
Fri 22nd May – 7.3 miles easy
Sat 23rd May – 6.7 miles
Sun 24th May – 18-19 miles easy

Mon 25th May – Rest
Tues 26th May – 7.3 miles in 42 mins good pace
Weds 27th May – 9.5 miles in 53mins 2 secs hot fast pace
Thurs 28th May – 7.3 miles
Fri 29th May – 6.7 miles
Sat 30th May – Rest
Sun 31st May – DERBY RAMATHON – 1 hour 11 mins 20 secs (30th out of 3000)

Mon 1st June – 5 miles easy
Tues 2nd June – 11.8 miles @ marathon pace
Weds 3rd June – Rest
Thurs 4th June – 7.3 miles
Fri 5th June – 6.7 miles easy
Sat 6th June – Rest
Sun 7th June – MICHELIN 10 –  52 mins 37 secs – 4th

Mon 8th June – 6.7 miles
Tues 9th June – 6.7 miles
Weds 10th June – 8.6 miles – 52 mins 30 secs
Thurs 11th June – 5 miles easy
Fri 12th June – 5 miles easy
Sat 13th June – Rest
Sun 14th June – POTTERIES MARATHON – 2 hours 30mins 13 secs (5.43 pace) 13th place

Mon 15th June – Rest
Tues 16th June – 7.3 miles – 46 mins steady
Weds 17th June – HOLLINGTON 3.5M RACE – 17 mins 28 secs – 1st – fast
Thurs 18th June – 8.6 miles – 53 mins steady
Fri 19th June – 6.7 miles easy
Sat 20th June – Rest
Sun 21st June – LITTLEOVER 10 – 54 mins 20 secs – 4th

Mon 22nd June – 5 miles
Tues 23rd June – Rest
Weds 24th June – 7.3 miles
Thurs 25th June – 7.6 miles
Fri 26th June – Rest
Sat 27th June – 5 miles easy
Sun 28th June – STAFFORD 10k – 32 mins 34 secs – 2nd

Mon 29th June – 6.7 miles fartlek!
Tues 30th – 6.7 miles with fast 2 mile
Weds 1st July – 7.5 miles
Thurs 2nd July – 9.5 steady
Fri 3rd July – 5 miles easy
Sat 4th July – won the carnival mile race
Sun 5th July – Haymaking all day!!

Mon 6th July – 6.7 miles
Tues 7th July – 6.7 miles including fast 2 miles @ 9 mins 50 secs
Weds 8th July – 7.3 miles steady
Thurs 9th July – 5 miles easy
Fri 10th July – 5 miles easy
Sat 11th July – Rest
Sun 12th July – SANDWELL MARATHON – 2 hours 32 mins 18 secs – 1st

Mon 13th July – 5 miles very easy
Tues 14th July – 6.7 miles – 40 mins
Weds 15th July – 6.6 miles
Thurs 16th July – JCB 5 – 25 mins 35 secs – 1st
Fri 17th July – 7.3 miles
Sat 18th July – Rest
Sun 19th July – CHEADLE 4 – 20 mins 31 secs

Mon 20th July – Rest
Tues 21st July – 9.5 miles – 54 mins
Weds 22nd July – 7.3 miles
Thurs 23rd July – 6.6 miles (2 miles @ 9.30)
Fri 24th July – Rest
Sat 25th July – 20 mins easy
Sun 26th July – POTTERS ARF – 70 mins 49 secs – 4th

Mon 27th July – 6.7 miles
Tues 28th July – Rest
Weds 29th July – 2.3 miles jog – 2x4 mins uphill fast. 2x3.5 mins downhill fast 2.3 miles jog
Thurs 30th July – Rest
Fri 31st July – 7.3 miles
Sat 1st Aug – Rest
Sun 2nd August – MILTON 10k – 33 mins 5 secs (38th)!

Mon 3rd August – 9.5 miles – 55 mins steady
Tues 4th August – 7.3 miles – 44 mins
Weds 5th August – Rest
Thurs 6th August – 13.8 miles – 76 mins (5.30 pace)
Fri 7th August – Rest
Sat 8th August – 7.3 miles steady – 43 mins
Sun 9th August – 15 miles – 92 mins

Mon 10th August – 7.3 miles – 42 mins 30 secs
Tues 11th August – 9.5 miles – 54 mins 30 secs
Weds 12th August – PLOUGH 5 (short). 3.5 miles warm up – 24 mins 56 secs – 1st
Thurs 13th August – 6.7 miles
Fri 14th August – 5 miles easy
Sat 15th August – Rest
Sun 16th August – INTERCOUNTIES 20 Darley, Yorkshire. Mid 80s scorching 2 hours 2 mins – 22nd

Mon 17th August – 40 mins on grass
Tues 18th August – 7.5 miles – 45 mins
Weds 19th August – 10 miles – 58 mins
Thurs 20th August – 25x sports field fartlek 9 miles approx.
Fri 21st August – 7.5 miles – 45 mins
Sat 22nd August – 10 miles 57 mins 30 secs
Sun 23rd August – 18-19 miles 1 hour 50 mins

Mon 24th August – 7.5 miles – 43 mins 2 secs
Tues 25th August – 10 miles – 56 mins 37 secs
Weds 26th August – 10 miles – 58 mins 40 secs
Thurs 27th August – 7.5 miles  – 43 mins 30 secs
Fri 28th August – 7 miles – 43 mins
Sat 29th August – 25 mins very easy
Sun 30th August – RUGELEY HALF 1 hour 9 mins 28 secs (2nd)

Mon 31st August – 7 miles – 41 mins 18 secs
Tues 1st September – 7 miles- 40 mins 30 secs
Weds 2nd September – 12 miles – 66 mins fast
Thurs 3rd September – 30 mins grass easy
Fri 4th September – Rest
Sat 5th September – 5 miles easy
Sun 6th September – 16.5 miles – 1 hour 40 mins

Mon 7th September – 5 miles easy
Tues 8th September – 7 miles – 41 mins 30 secs
Weds 9th September – 9 miles @marathon pace
Thurs 10th September – PULLED SHOULDER MUSCLE!
Fri 11th September – 5 miles – cautious shoulder improving
Sat 12th September – Rest
Sun 13th September – HUMBER MARATHON – 2 hours 29 mins 41 secs (16th).

5 miles: 28.07
10 miles: 56.33 / 28.25
15 miles: 85.40 / 29.13
20 miles: 113.59 / 28.19
25 miles 142.30 / 28.30
Last 10k – 35.41

Eddie’s postscript: ‘After the Humber Marathon I was plagued with niggles. I raced many times in subsequent years but my body wouldn’t let me do the marathon distance again. It was fun but I know with the benefit of hindsight that I was capable of a lot better. That’s where a coach would have been invaluable.’ 

All content in this article copyright of  Eddie Whittaker and High Performance Runner 2020