Run Don’t Run 2014 London Marathon Freebie Guide

If you thought the only reward you got after all those early morning starts, Sunday long runs, visits to physiotherapists/sports masseuses/osteopaths/podiatrists and generally wearing out your shoes was the chance to slog around London with 35000 other people then think again. For this week and probably this week only, a Virgin Money London Marathon race number or finisher’s medal pretty much gives you the keys to the city (well, access to lots of free stuff). Most of these offers were harvested off Twitter so it might be wise to double check terms and conditions beforehand.

Free Travel

Transport for London are offering free travel on the Tube, bus, London Overground, tram and Docklands Light Railway for all runners in the big day, from early morning until 5pm. To qualify, show your race number.

Those coming from further afield are entitled to free travel on any Chiltern Railways services on Sunday, 13 April. To get the free travel runners just have to present their official Marathon tabard or race number to ticket inspectors.

Free Services for Runners

If you need a bit of last minute intervention to get you to the start and finish line, Runners Need are offering free Kinesiology Taping for marathon runners courtesy of @SixPhysio @TheOnlyWayIs_UP on Friday 11th April between 11am and 2pm at their Strype Street store (E1 7LQ) near Liverpool Street station. Holborn and Southwark Street branches are also offering this service (contact stores for details).

Over 70s running the marathon qualify for up to 3 months free membership at the Jubilee Hall gym in Covent Garden. The gym has the latest Life Fitness Engage series treadmills as well as almost 100 other pieces of cardiovascular and strength training equipment to keep runners in the groove.

Free Food

MEAT liquor are offering a free burger to medal holders on race day plus 50% off for official volunteers. MEAT liquor is at 74 Wellbeck Street, London W1G 0BA

Meanwhile Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf are offering a free burger to all London Marathon 2014 medal wearers, valid April 13-15th. They’re also throwing a mini bottle of Prosecco. Supporters eating with you will also get a complimentary bottle of Prosecco when they order a main from the menu.

From 7th April runners with a Marathon number can have a free meal at the Mayfair Pizza Company The offer runs until Friday 12th April and Mayfair Pizza Company is at 4 Lancashire Court, New Bond Street.

For other marathon free food fests, the Daily Telegraph has these and a few other places for the likes of Peruvian style breakfasts, macaroni cheese, grills and post-race cocktails.

Free Sightseeing

The Shard are offering the first 100 medal holders turning up from 13th to 17th April free entry to London’s highest viewing platform. They’re also offering a 20% discount for friends, family, and supporters who accompany a medal holder. Offer details and terms and conditions are here.



Alternative Running Role Models #6 – Joe Strummer out of The Clash

20131203-231758.jpgWalking up London’s Edgware Road yesterday, I spotted that somebody had decided to name a suitably urban subway after the late, great Joe Strummer, lead singer of 1970s/80s punk icons The Clash. As my daydreaming shifted back to thoughts of what running I might be doing later that day, I suddenly remembered a story I’d otherwise forgotten. In 1982, after poor ticket sales for the band’s Combat Rock Tour, their manager hatched a plot for Joe to suddenly go missing to generate a bit of publicity.

The plan was for him to fly off to America but I guess that as the band were “so bored with the USA”, Joe ignored instructions and hot-footed it to Paris. While hiding out in the French capital, Strummer claimed to have got around to running the “French Marathon” which later turned out to be the one in Paris. Joe’s training for this iconic event? A 16 week Runner’s World “Sub 4:00” plan with lots of cross training and carefully scheduled rest days? No, the Strummer Strategy was:

You really shouldn’t ask me about my training, regime, you know….Okay, you want it, here it is: Drink 10 pints of beer the night before the race. Ya got that? And don’t run a single step at least four weeks before the race … But make sure you put a warning in this article, ‘Do not try this at home.’ I mean, it works for me and Hunter Thompson, but it might not work for others. I can only tell you what I do.

imageSo are these the key elements of the perfect if radical marathon training schedule? Extreme hydration following an extreme taper? The jury’s out because there’s an element of doubt over whether Joe actually completed the 26.2 miles. In pre-internet days I guess you might have been lucky to track down your results in a local newspaper, none of this permanent record on the website business we take for granted today. Unfortunately neither Joe’s stage or real name appear in any official results.

However, presumably buoyed up by his Parisian challenge, there are photos of Joe taking part in the 1983 London Marathon with an actual race number. Although you shouldn’t believe everything you read in newspapers, it seems that Joe was somehow sponsored by The Sun who claim he completed the course in 4 hours and 13 minutes (nice vest by the way).

Anyhow, it goes without saying that Joe Strummer, spokesperson of a generation and alleged marathon-man, we salute you!

For a comprehensive analysis of Joe Strummer’s running career, check out this site.

The Art of Extreme Tapering #2

A retrospective “food diary” capturing today’s intake gives me an additional reason to look forward to the impending end of my sabbatical from running (ONE WEEK TO GO!)

Today was a little unusual – I went on a training course where there was – Hallelujah! – an endless supply of pastries, biscuits plus a buffet lunch. Fortunately the novelty of bike commutes continues so some concerted pedalling made its contribution, but I probably needed to do an Ironman to burn off today’s carbo (and junk food) loading orgy.

Eating well, carbo loading and staying hydrated, the extreme approach:

  • Bowl of Nestlé Clusters
  • Cup of tea
  • Chocolate croissant
  • Almond croissant
  • Cup of coffee
  • Chocolate cookie
  • Custard pastry
  • One round on the gratis buffet
  • Another round on the gratis buffet
  • Cup of tea
  • “Tasting menu” (one of each of the puddings from the gratis buffet)
  • Cheeky extra flapjack
  • Cup of tea
  • 2-3 extra biscuits
  • Home made latte
  • Tuna, courgette and tomato risotto
  • 2 glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon

The Art of Extreme Tapering

As the Spring marathon forums start to prepare their disciples for the art of the pre-race taper, it struck me that the Don’t Run regime provided a great opportunity for the ultimate in taper opportunities. In other words, I haven’t really just stopped running for 6 weeks plus. I’m actually making some reductions to the volume and intensity of my training so, come the big day of the race (that I just so happen to have pulled out of), I’ll feel sharp but relaxed and ready  for the challenges of the long road ahead.

So with this new, admittedly twisted way of viewing my predicament, I thought I’d review my current programme and see how I fared against the key criteria for successful tapering some of which were captured by Runner’s World in 2007. 

1. Drop your volume and intensity

Excellent performance here – after a 110 mile January, apart from running for a bus (but pulling up as the bus pulled away) and the aforementioned race for a train, the volume and intensity levels from early February to date have been exactly zero. Take that, you “slightly shorter long runs/slightly slower/fewer intervals” runners with your feeble, half hearted approaches  to the taper.

2. Cross Training

Yes, there has been some very cross training. Despite that, last week I told myself I ‘d got the cycling bug again, gazing wistfully out of the office window, longing for the charms of the long cycle home in the dark. I’m planning on a couple of commutes a week from now on, although the -6 temperatures that are forecast for tomorrow might lead to that bike rusting up in the garden for the next few months. And the preparation! The painstaking bag packing process looms over me for hours before I finally hop on the saddle in the morning, ruining the relaxation that I’d planned for the night before. Oh for the days when I’d be out of bed and out the front door ready to run in less than 5 minutes (followed by 20 minutes shivering in my shorts, waiting for the Garmin to fire up).

Meanwhile I haven’t quite got my swimming mojo back – a couple of sessions where I was left standing/treading water by my 9 year old daughter haven’t really done the trick. Maybe British Summer Time, which is allegedly imminent will help to lure me back?

Finally I’ve been fairly committed to a bit of strength training but have maintained my lifetime avoidance of going to any gym. I bought some decidedly kinky looking rubber straps in various colours and sizes to make even walking up and down the living room into a bit of a workout. I definitely need novelty in this area so have probably tried upwards of 50 different drills, but I still can’t say, hand on heart/abdomen that I really know what my core is or how to engage it.

Next time: Eating well, carbo loading and staying hydrated, the extreme approach.