Many thanks to Robert Deakin for providing this extract of his training diaries. I hope it gives an insight into the level of training required to perform at this level. In addition to details of his runs and training sessions Rob gives his thoughts on how he felt mentally and physically at the time.  

In his words: This race came off the back of a poor race at the London Marathon in April 2000 where I had blown up badly and finished in 2.26. I was determined to get a better performance and result at Manchester in October. 

I turned 34 a week before the marathon and had run for more than 20 years by this time. Started running aged 10. Coached early years by Peter Jones. Then Sid Crutchley at Stoke AC. From 14 onwards it was on and off with Harry Harvey at Stoke right through until I stopped competing. In America 1987 to 1992 it was George Young and Bob Bramen. Advised by Mark Roberts. (13.29 5k runner, 7 time Potteries Marathon winner). 

Other PBs: 800m: 1.54. 1500m: 3.50. 3000m: 8.09. 5000m: 14.12. 10k (Road): 29.57. 10m: 49.30. HM: 65.11

Managing a Newsagent’s shop at this time – provided some flexibility of working hours to enable training time.  

Weight approximately 138lbs. I did race at low 140s but 138 was ideal. I did get down to 135-136 for a short spell but felt weak. No particular diet. Always conscious of the window especially after hard sessions and getting high glycaemic foods back in. 

I did some weights 2 to 3 times a week. Nothing out of the ordinary. Some free weights, step ups, half squats, lunges, plus machines for quads, hamstrings and groin. I did stretching after most runs. Not much after sessions. Used some sheets I had from Harry Harvey years back. Generally holding stretches for 20-30secs. Took about 20mins. I did some self-massage most days looking for a tight area. No actual booked massage sessions. 

Typically 90-110 miles running per week during this period. 

Back then I was still lucky with injuries. I wouldn’t say it was by any means perfect. I probably would change a few things! 

Effort/Pace guide: 
‘Easy’ – slower than 6.30 miles – not many of those! 
‘Controlled’ – 6.00-6.30 miles – most daily running
‘Steady’ – 5.30-6.00 miles – some more sustained runs, often with others 


Tue 1st August 2000 – just under 10 weeks to the Manchester Marathon
11.00am – 40 mins controlled. Feeling a little tired. 

5.00pm – 90 mins controlled with Darren Daniels. Felt tired starting out but I was soon running ok. Felt heavy legged the last half hour. 

Wed 2nd August
10.15am – 8 miles controlled. Felt a little tired and heavy legged. 

6.00pm – Workout: 15 mins warm up. 3×10 mins with 2 mins recovery. 10 mins warm down. Stayed on the roads which were quiet. The second 10 minute had a large downhill section and so was the easiest. Otherwise I was pushing hard and felt ok. 

Thu 3rd August
10.00am – 7 miles controlled. A little tired starting out, but ok once I got going. 

4.40pm – 1 hour controlled with Darren Daniels. Felt ok. Rained towards the end. 

Fri 4th August
2.10pm – 18 miles on the Canal in 1.40.49 (50.45 – 50.04). It was my first long hard effort in the build-up to the Manchester Marathon. I felt ok early on, nothing special! Passed 2 miles in 11.18 and 4 miles in 22.35. I slowed a bit at the turn but then picked it up. I felt quite strong and picked up the last 2 miles in 10.23. Very pleased with the run. 

Sat 5th August
10.50am – Workout: 10 mins warm-up Keele grass. 20x300m with 100m jog recovery on the track. 10 mins warm-down Keele grass. I ran the 300s under control and jogged right through after each interval. I was running approx. 53-54. I let my watch continue for the whole session. It totalled 5 miles after the last recovery in 27.10. My legs were a little heavy and the top of my left IT Band was sore. 

6.10 pm – 7 miles controlled. My legs felt fine but I kept it under control. 

Sun 6th August
9.15am – 10 miles controlled with Andy Allen. My legs felt very heavy throughout. It rained most of the way. 

4.15pm – 8 miles controlled. Felt a lot better but I kept it under control after a couple of tough days. 

Mon 7th August
10.00am – 9 miles controlled with Darren Daniels. Going ok. The top of my left IT Band felt sore towards the end. 

6.40pm – Workout: 10 mins warm-up.
1k – 3.01 – 1min rec
2k – 6.00 – 2 mins rec
3k – 9.00 – 3 mins rec
2k – 5.58 – 2 mins rec
1k – 2.57 

10 mins warm-down. It was a little muddy in places after rain earlier. My legs felt quite bouncy warming up yet I had to push hard on the first 1k. I really had to push the 3k towards the end to keep the time down to 9 mins. I had some stomach problems towards the end of the session but considering the conditions I was pleased. 

Tue 8th August
10.00am – 1 hour 45 mins controlled with Darren Daniels. Felt ok throughout. 

7.00pm – 4 miles controlled. Felt a little drained from the morning. I ran through the park before one of the City Park races. 

Wed 9th August
10.15am – 1 hour controlled. Felt a little drained throughout. 

6.10pm – 1 hour controlled. Felt better than this morning but I made sure that I didn’t push too hard. 

Thu 10th August
9.45am – Workout: 10 mins warm-up. 6×5 mins with 2 mins recovery on the Zodiac trail. 10 mins warm-down. Ran the session with Darren Daniels Ran out and back on the top paths. Didn’t push them too hard. My legs started to feel heavy the last couple of reps. Paths were in good condition apart from both ends. 

4.45pm – 8 miles steady in 45.20. My legs didn’t feel too bad after the morning’s session and I ran quite strong throughout. 

Fri 11th August
11.00am – 2 hours. Ran with Darren Daniels and Andy Allen for about 70 mins. Felt quite strong throughout. It was quite warm.

Sat 12th August

11.00am – 50 mins controlled with Darren Daniels. My legs felt fine. A warm morning. 

7.10 pm – Workout: 8k at Hanley Park in 25.11. 2 miles warm-up and 10 mins warm-down.
2k – 6.19 (6.19)
4k – 12.32 (6.13)
6k – 19.00 (6.28)
8k – 25.11 (6.11)
My legs felt a little heavy warming up. I didn’t go out too hard but picked it up on the second loop. I eased down on the 3rd lap but finished strong. I was pleased with the time. I felt strong throughout. 

Sun 13th August
9.20am – 40 mins controlled. Kept it under control. 

2.00pm – 70 mins controlled with Andy Allen. My legs felt tine after yesterday’s timed effort. 

Mon 14th August
11.15am – 1 hour controlled. Felt a little drained although my legs were ok. 

6.30pm – Workout: 10 mins warm-up on Keele grass. 10x800m with 60 seconds recovery on the track. 2.23-2.23-2.23-2.23-2.23-2.22-2.23-2.23-2.23-2.18. 5 mins warm-down on the grass. The inside of the track was a little soft in places. I felt quite strong and fluent. I’m lack a little speed. I was able to get through the first half of the session without pushing too hard. I had something left at the end. Considering the timed effort 2 days ago I was pleased. 

Tue 15th August
12.00pm – 1.5 hours with Darren Daniels. Running quite strong along the canal paths. Feeling a little heavy legged towards the end after the hills. 

Wed 16th August
10.50am – 50 mins controlled. Kept it under control. Going ok. 

6.40pm – 45 mins controlled. Stuck to the road. Going ok. 

Thu 17th August
11.30am – 45 mins. After 20 mins of controlled running I ran 10×1 min efforts with equal recovery. I just picked up the pace and didn’t push too hard. Felt a little drained. 

6.15pm – 45 mins controlled with Darren Daniels. Going ok. 

Fri 18th August
3.30pm – 45 mins controlled. Felt ok. No bounce in my legs but I should be eased back for Sunday’s ½ marathon. 

Sat 19th August
6.00pm – 30 mins controlled. My legs felt quite bouncy. I should be ready for tomorrow. 

Sun 20th August
11.00am – Race: Leek ½ Marathon. 1st in 70.38. 10 mins warm up and 1 mile warm down. The start was very steady and apart from a lad who shot off and was reeled in there was a group of 4 that went clear. On a climb at approx. 2 miles I found myself pulling clear and so I decided to go for it. There were some steep climbs over the 2nd half of the race but I felt strong. It was the steep downhills that were more of a problem. I was pleased with how strong I felt. I didn’t kill myself at the end. 

Mon 21st August
11.30am – 1 hour controlled. The front of my thighs were stiff. Otherwise I was going ok. 

6.30pm – 1 hour controlled. Again other than my thighs being sore I felt ok. 

Tue 22nd August
10.20am – 1 hour controlled. My thighs were still a little sore but otherwise I felt ok. 

5.00pm – 1 hour controlled. Feeling ok although with my thighs I’ll wait until Thursday before I do a session. 

Wed 23rd August
9.30am – 10 miles controlled with Darren Daniels. My thighs felt better and I was running stronger. 

6.30pm – 1 hour controlled. Felt particularly good the first part of the run. I should be ready for a session tomorrow. 

Thu 24th August
11.30am – Workout: 10 mins warm-up – Westport & Canal. 2×2 miles with 2 minutes recovery (5 mins) + 4×1 mile with 60 seconds recovery. 10.02 – 9.47 – 4.59 – 4.58- 4.57- 4.53. 1 mile warm-down. The 2 mile reps were run from the Duke of Bridgewater to Festival Park & back. It was a warm sunny day. I was running the 2 miles within myself although I picked up the pace towards the end of the second. My legs were quite heavy on the reps although I was still able to run strong. It was a tough session but I got through it well. 

5.10pm – 6 miles controlled. My legs felt ok considering the session earlier. 

Fri 25th August
10.50am – 2 hours with Darren Daniels and Andy Allen most of the way. It was a warm day but we kept the pace controlled and I felt ok. 

Sat 26th August
12.00pm – 7 miles controlled. Felt a bit drained starting out but better as I went on. 

6.30pm – 7 miles controlled. Again I felt tired starting out but quite bouncy as I went on. It rained and thunder & lightening. 

Sun 27th August
9.15am – 55 mins controlled. Felt ok for so early in the morning. 

4.15pm – Workout: 10 mins warm-up at Bathpool. 20×60 secs with 60 secs recovery. 10mins warm-down. Ran the efforts hard but without straining and felt quite strong. 

Mon 28th August
10.00am – 50 mins controlled with Andy Allen. Kept the pace under control. Felt bouncy. 

5.00pm – 10m controlled with Darren Daniels. Again going ok. Picked the pace up a little. 

Tue 29th August
11.40am – 16 miles Scotia – Trentham & back on the Canal in 85.36 (42.40 – 42.56) 5.21 pace. I started out feeling and running strong and passed 2 miles in 10.40. I continued to run at 5.20 miles reaching 26.40 at 5 miles and 42.40 at 8. On the way back I was slightly into the wind at times and lost 10 seconds at 5.20 pace from 8-12 miles. I then really slowed from 12-14 miles with the various obstacles but really pushed the last 2 miles. I felt strong most of the way and was pleased how I was able to run at approx. 2.20 marathon pace. 

6.40pm – 30 mins controlled. My legs felt fine although I was a little drained. 

Wed 30th August
10.00am – 1 hour controlled. My legs showed no reaction from yesterday and I felt ok. 

4.15pm – 45 mins controlled with Mark Dalkins. Going ok. 

Thu 31st August
12.10 pm – 2 hours with Darren Daniels. Running at a good strong steady pace for most of the way and I felt strong. 

Fri 1st September
9.50am – 1 hour 15 mins controlled with Andy Allen. Kept it under control. Felt ok. 

4.15pm – 7 controlled. Felt a little heavy legged. 

Sat 2nd September
11.30am – 1 hour controlled. Felt a little tired throughout. 

6.00pm – Workout: 10 mins warm up Oakamoor. 2x2k with 2 mins recovery. 6.00-6.02. 4x1k with 60 secs recovery. 2.52 – 2.51 – 2.57 – 2.57. 5 mins warm down. I ran the session up and down the railway line at Oakamoor. I was pushing quite hard from early on. The last two 1k efforts were a little slower but were possible slightly uphill. Mark Dalkins helped me out on the second and fourth 1k reps. It made a nice change and I’ll use the paths again. I’m sure by the times I ran they are accurate. 

Sun 3rd September
9.30am – 45 mins easy/controlled. Need a recovery run. Felt ok. 

4.00pm – 1 hour 15 mins controlled. Started out feeling strong. Felt a little tired towards the end. 

Mon 4th September
2.00pm – 2 hours. Ran almost the first hour with Darren Daniels. Felt a little drained throughout although I managed the distance ok. 

Tue 5th September
11.40 am – 50 mins controlled. Felt ok. 

6.50pm – Workout: 10 mins warm-up. 4×2 miles with 2 mins recovery on the Canal. 10.08 – 9.56 – 10.00 – 9.45. 1 mile warm-down. I felt strong throughout the session. The weather was fine with a slight wind mainly against on reps 1 and 3. I ran the last rep hard but was still running strong. The main thing now is that I don’t overdo as I am obviously in good shape. 

Wed 6th September
10.45am – 1 hour controlled. I stuck to the roads as there had been quite a lot of rain. Felt ok. Kept it under control. 

6.15pm – 50 mins controlled. Felt tired starting out but better as I went on. 

Thu 7th September
1.45pm – 2 hours 20 mins. Ran at a controlled effort. Felt strong throughout. Thought about 2.5 hours but I’ve put enough long runs in and I should be ok. 

Fri 8th September
9.30am – 10 miles controlled with Andy Allen. My legs felt ok after yesterday 

3.30pm – 7 miles steady. Running quite strong throughout without pushing too hard. 

Sat 9th September
9.30am – 4 miles easy. Decided to race Ipstones 5 at the last minute. 

3.00pm – Race: Ipstones 5 – 1st 25.34. 10 mins warm-up. 10 mins warm-down. I sensed lining up at the start that it was going to be a time trial. I went out hard from the start. The first mile plus was all uphill. I wore a pair of Fila shoes to test them out and they felt ok. I continued to work hard on a downhill dirt track. A steep hill at just after 4 miles was tough and I had a dodgy stomach the last mile. However I finished with something left. I was pleased how strong I felt after some high mileage. I feel very fit right now and just need to be sensible and not overdo it. 

Sun 10th September
9.20am – 50 mins controlled. Felt ok. No reaction from yesterday. 

2.15pm – 1 hour controlled with Andy Allen. Legs felt fine. Should be ok for a session tomorrow. 

Mon 11th September
11.40am – Workout: 10 mins warm up. Westport & Canal. 5×1 mile with 60secs recovery. 4.54 – 4.51 – 4.51 – 4.50 – 4.44. Average 4.50. 10 mins warm down. I was up with toothache during the night. I was feeling jaded before the session. Warming up my legs felt heavy and starting they felt no better. However I am fit enough at the moment that I got through it with decent times. It was a warm morning. Considering the toothache and the race 2 days ago I was very pleased with the times. 

6.45pm – 6 miles controlled. My legs felt fine. 

Tue 12th September
5.00pm – 1.5 hours controlled. Started out feeling bouncy but a little heavy later on. 

Wed 13th September
11.30am – 50 mins controlled. Going ok. 

6.30pm – 50 mins controlled. Kept it under control. Needed an easier day. 

Thu 14th September
10.15am – 5 miles controlled. I kept the distance down as I am hoping to run Lake Vrnwy Half on Sunday. It depends on whether there is an end to the fuel crisis. My legs felt fine. 

5.40pm – Workout: 10 mins warm up. 12×90 secs with 60 sec recovery at Bathpool. 10 mins warm down. Decided to do a session as it looks unlikely that I will run at Lake Vrnwy. Felt a little flat. Didn’t push too hard. 

Fri 15th September
No run – I felt drained and so took my first day off for a while. 

Sat 16th September
5.15pm – 20 miles on the Canal in 1.49.27 (55.07 – 54.20). It was a late decision to do this timed effort. I didn’t feel great starting out but I felt strong throughout and picked up the last 2 miles in 10.20 including crossing the main road towards the end because of works. This proves I’m ready for Manchester in 3 weeks. I just need to not overdo it now. 

Sun 17th September
9.30am – 50 mins controlled. My legs felt ok after yesterday. 

6.00pm – 55 mins controlled with Mark Dalkins. Kept it under control. My legs felt fine. 

Mon 18th September
11.15am – 1 hour controlled. My legs felt ok. It was muddy in places after rain earlier. 

6.15pm – 7 miles steady. Running strong without forcing it too much. Felt quite bouncy. 

Tue 19th September
10.00am – 45 mins controlled. Felt a little tired. 

5.00pm – Workout: 10 mins warm-up. 4x2miles with 2 mins recovery. 10.01 – 9.58 – 9.53 – 9.52. 1 mile warm-down. It was raining throughout the session and there were puddles everywhere. I felt strong but not really bouncy. The times especially considering the conditions were very pleasing. Just don’t overdo things now. 

Wed 20th September
3.45pm – 2 hours at Cheadle with Mark Dalkins for about the first 70 mins. We ran through trails and field which were muddy in places. I ran the last 50 mins on the roads by myself. It rained at the start so wore waterproof top and cap. My legs started to feel heavy over the last half an hour. 

Thu 21st September
10.30am – 45 mins controlled. Tired and heavy legged most of the way. 

6.00pm – Workout: 10 mins warm-up. 20×40 secs with 40 secs recovery. 1 mile warm-down. I didn’t push the efforts too hard. Felt better as I went on. 

Fri 22nd September
4.00pm – 1 hour controlled. Felt a little flat 

Sat 23rd September
11.00am – 40 mins controlled. Didn’t sleep that well last night. A little tired. 

5.45pm – Workout: 1 mile warm up. 5x2000m with 2 mins recovery. 6.03 – 6.03 – 5.55 – 6.04 – 5.56. 1 mile warm down. Used the railway line with Mark Dalkins. Reps 1, 3 and 5 started at the road end and were slightly faster. Mark ran the first three 2ks and 1k of my fourth. I was able to run hard but quite relaxed early on. I was tired towards the end and on my last rep. I pushed the last 1 k after a slow first 1k. It was a nice change to do reps here. 

Sun 24th September
2.10pm – 1 hour 40 mins with Andy Allen. It was pissing down throughout. Felt strong and was running strong on my own towards the end. 

Mon 25th September
11.00am – 40 mins controlled. My legs felt fine – so good that I’ve decided to do my session tonight instead of tomorrow. I wanted to see what state Westport was in. 

6.10pm – Workout: 10 mins warm-up. 6x1100m with 60 secs jog recovery. 3.20 – 3.14 – 3.14 – 3.15 – 3.14 – 3.13. 10 mins warm-down. I felt good warming up although it was raining quite heavily throughout the session. Apart from my first rep I ran hard and so I was happy to settle on 6 reps. Considering the conditions I was pleased with the times. 

Tue 26th September
3.00pm – 1 hour 15 mins controlled. I didn’t sleep too well last night so I had a nap before the run. Felt a little tired starting out but better as I went on. It was sunny although muddy from rain earlier. 

Wed 27th September
11.15am – 40 mins controlled. Felt ok throughout. 

6.45pm – 40 mins controlled. My legs felt bouncy. It rained throughout. 

Thu 28th September
2.30pm – 45 mins controlled with Andy Allen. Felt jaded throughout after not sleeping too well last night. 

Fri 29th September
2.30pm – 1 hour controlled. Felt a lot better than yesterday. 

Sat 30th September
11.45am – 40 mins controlled. Felt quite bouncy. Ready for a hard run later. 

6.30pm – Workout: 8k Hanley Park in 24.45. 10 mins warm up + 5 mins warm down.
2k – 6.13 (6.13)
4k – 12.25 (6.12)
6k – 18.40 (6.15)
8k – 24.45 (6.05)
I felt quite good warming up. I didn’t start off too hard and was pleased at my first 2k split. I was careful not to really hammer the pace and I finished strong. It was an ideal night for running but it was still a good time and a big confidence booster for the marathon next week. 

Sun 1st October
2.40pm – 1 hour 15 minutes controlled with Mark Dalkins. Ran over some trails. 

Mon 2nd October
3.15pm – 45 mins controlled. I drove down to Chatterley Whitfield. It was muddy in places after plenty of rain earlier. My legs felt fine. 

Tue 3rd October
3.00pm – 50 mins controlled. My legs felt ok. 

Wed 4th October
4.10pm – 40 mins. Ran easy most of the way. Mark Dalkins came with me but was doing efforts and so was back and forth. Felt ok. 

Thu 5th October
10.00am – 40 mins with Andy Allen. Felt ok. Running easy most of the way. 

Fri 6th October
No run. 

Sat 7th October
1.40pm – 20 mins easy. My legs felt ok. Slept well last night. 

Sun 8th October
9.30am – Race: Manchester Marathon 1st 2.23.53 – I didn’t sleep well last night but felt quite relaxed driving to the race. I didn’t bother with a warm-up. The first 4 miles were very slow. Andy Arrand broke away quite early on and I decided to follow him at 5 miles. It was very gradual but I could tell I was closing. The first 5 miles took approx. 28 minutes and the second 5 around 27 minutes. Through half way in 71.38 I was just off the lead. When I caught the leader I tried to push the pace a little and soon got a gap. It started to rain during the last few miles. My legs were now heavy but I was still running strong and had plenty left at the finish. The first prize of £750 was nice. I’ve got a lot more to come yet.


All content in this article copyright of Robert Deakin and High Performance Runner 2020