Leszek: There’s something wrong and then I just realized that we never switched it on, so we’re starting again. Sorry for that.
Owain: Take 2.
Leszek: So I am sitting with Owen today in the park just near in Fitness Soul, and then we decided to go out because it’s nice.
Owain: It’s gorgeous.
Leszek: You just finished your training for today.
Leszek: So it was fast one, isn’t it? Short one?
Owain: Just short, 5 miles. So this morning, I was up and watching and marshalling all the runners, run like the ten-mile race in Denver. I’m getting that inspiration from them and see you this afternoon, 5 miles to meet you, and then we went one mile drawback to the flight afterwards.
Leszek: That’s great when you’re saying this a short one for you. For me, it was my long day today and I did 6 miles as well.
Owain: Yeah, I’ve been building up over the years. So yes, yesterday was my longest run, and so it was 26 miles yesterday in preparation for several miles in 4 weeks. . .
Leszek: Which is four weeks’ time, and then so prepare. You’ve mentioned this is your longest week.
Owain: Yeah, this has been my longest week and next week, I’ll probably drop 70 miles next week. Next week, maybe 65 and then I’ll really drop down to 40 miles and maybe down to probably 20 before rest day.
Leszek: What you are expecting of the rise. . . Can you say?
Owain: I don’t know.
Leszek: Come on. Tell.
Owain: Trainings are going to be well, and I’d love to go… Well, if I’m going my training, I’ll definitely sub-3, and so sub-3-hours and if there’s 2 hours 59, I’ll drive them in. If it’s 2 hours 45, I’ll be up at stakes. Ecstatic. And it really it’s just going to be get it timed on, get a sub-3. I don’t know how it timed with my main trainer.
Leszek: What’s your strategy? You said before that you’re not watching your heart rate at all. Just running by your, with the feel or?
Owain: I run by the pace.
Leszek: By the pace.
Owain: And so on my watch, I’ll be going now at about 640 a mile and being really strict to that. That’s guarantee to sub-3. 650 is just sub-3. 640 is comfortably sub-3. And I’ve been training faster than that, so I’ll go 640s until 20 miles and I always three miles, half way is 20 mile mark. Coz six miles is just going to be really short. So yeah, weeks after that.
Leszek: What about the eating strategy? Do you have anything or…?
Owain: Yeah, I’m signed up to a nutrition program from someone online, fitnaturally. And so, I get weekly plans of them.
Leszek: Are you finding them helpful?
Owain: Oh, amazing! Yes, the first time I’ve ever done it. But the healthiest I’ve ever been, and definitely the fastest I’ve ever been. On the run, I just feel strong, I feel healthy. I feel, I’ve got the power to do the sessions. And I’m recovering so much.
Leszek: Can you share what you eat? Like roughly what you. . .
Owain: Yes, it’s just natural food. So in the morning, my porridge, and then I don’t snack as such until conveniently afternoon. But for my lunch I’ll have maybe a salad with humus and a wrap or something similar and then a bit an hour before I go out for my training run, I’ll have the kind of Stoats porridge bars.
Owain: With a glass of milk. That’s it.
Leszek: And that’s it?
Owain: And then I’ll do my session, and then as soon as I’m finished, I’ll have more milk, a thing that really…especially chocolate milk. And it really helps. I don’t know, if it is just in my head but it tastes good and it just helps me recover.
Leszek: I mean it helps you. That’s good.
Owain: Yeah, and then a good meal at night. So if it’s been a hard session, and it’s usually something like a steak with lots of potatoes and or just something to protein and recovering carbs sometimes and then I’m most off the next day.
Leszek: Do you do any preparation before the marathon? You’ve got any carb loading or anything like that or it’s just you going simple straight into it.
Owain: I used to, but I speak to my coach and he’s going to say to me, “Well, everything’s working just now in training. So why change anything?”
Leszek: That’s true.
Owain: So yeah, probably I won’t next year to be honest, I probably just eat up what we’ve been eating and just see how it goes in the race day.
Leszek: And during the race. Any gels or. . . It’s mostly gels?
Leszek: And water or?
Owain: Well, before I go I’ll have a porridge in the morning again and then I’ll have another Stoats porridge bars prior an hour before the race and then during the race I’ll take a gel prior from about 75 minutes and then take one maybe half hour after that. So maybe four, maybe five gels. And then take water onboard at the water stations. That’s the plan really.
Leszek: That’s the plan. That’s a good plan. That’s a good plan.
Owain: Yeah, we’ll see.
Leszek: So your first marathon, was it marathon, isn’t it? Was it like in 2008?
Owain: Yeah. My first ever race. It was a marathon.
Leszek: Why not?
Owain: Just absolutely insane. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody.
Leszek: And what was your time?
Owain: 5 hours.
Leszek: Five hours. And this is basically the main reason I just thought it would be nice to do the podcast with you and the chat.
Leszek: Because I met you a few times when you’ve been on the like on the podium, on the folks’ like… And I was speaking, “This guy is super fit. He’s probably one of these baggers which is who run all his life, and that’s why he’s there.” And then I spoke to your wife one day and she said about me that it wasn’t like that at all. You just kind of started quite late. So tell me the story. So you sign up for marathon because of what?
Owain: Basically, I was, in 2008, really overweight and kind of a really heavy guy to say just run for a charity because I thought “Well, if I run for charity then I can’t get over it. Could have raise money for them. So I have to do something.”
Leszek: You have to run. Yeah.
Owain: Maybe some, a normal person would go out to that 10K, or race for life, or something like that. But no, no I was signed up to Denver marathon. For training plan from Runners’ World website.
Leszek: How far before the marathon you say? How many miles you have to prepare?
Owain: The farthest I ran in training was 17 miles, and it wasn’t enough.
Owain: Absolutely not. The training plan was you run by time. So your longest run was three hours. So I presumed they can expect you to be running maybe a four marathon. By now, 5 hours later, I crossed the finish line, but straight away I was like, “I can do that quicker.” There was a kind of point where I thought, “Yeah, it was horrendous. And my legs was so sore. My body ached. But I was like I can do this quicker.” And that was it. Then from 2008, I’ve just been running ever since. No injuries. So I’ve been really lucky with injuries. I hadn’t anything major that take me out for years.
Leszek: Did you have any previous experience of any sport or. . .
Owain: No. I grew up in Isle of Tiree in Hebrides. So I was always out walking or cycling. Where my host was, it was about half a mile from and the hotel of my parents. So those days I’d be walking up and down the beach, and kind of going like that, but I never really run with all of my sports days. I never thought I could get good at this.
Leszek: So after the first mile, it was there you said you thought that you can be quicker.
Leszek: And when you realized that you are actually good. So have you sign to any club or it was just on your own for a long time?
Owain: Well no, from 2008, I run Edinburgh and about two months later, I joined Strava Athletics Club over Fife where I used to live. But I still didn’t think I was good. I was at the back of the group every night that I was training with them. But I kind of thought there’s just something in my head that thought, “I can catch that group in front, or I can stalk with them another two minutes or I can do it better.” So it’s constantly it was just myself, just pushing myself all the time. And then I moved to North Edinburgh, when, Mandy my wife now, moved in Edinburgh and I was spending a lot of travelling to Fife. I love training with Pitreavie, but spending an hour driving over to Fife, an hour back for a 45 minute training session, it just didn’t make sense.
Owain: So I joined EAC. I’ve been training with them ever since and so that was maybe about 2, 3 years now. I’ve been training with them. But this winter prior, the first time I thought, I should not be too bad at this and I was sporting at the Folk Chelsea’s…
Leszek: Because I did some spying and all your best races basically was last year. Isn’t it? It’s like you’re all…
Owain: Yeah. I had a really good year last year.
Leszek: Have you changed something? Do you know why? Was it the eating or different training or it’s just experience?
Owain: I think it’s just with time, and I’ve been really dedicated to my training and it’s not very often that I miss a training session with the club on a Tuesday night, and that’s track training, and so that’s a lot of speed work. It’s about 10k worth of speed work every Tuesday night, and knowing I am in front of these guys, we’ve got some really talented guys there. So I’m still thinking I’m an okay runner. It’s not until you get to races where these good guys won’t turn up and manage to go, we won here or there. But last year was really good, I think I just got knuckle down. My training’s been consistent, and I think that the key is just consistency of knocking out maybe last year’s 60 miles a week average and I’ve been enjoying it as well. It hasn’t been a chore of training. Thinking, “I have to go out!” I love going out and running. I’ll go out first thing in the morning and enjoy seeing the sunrise.
Leszek: Was it always like that? Or just taught yourself how to do it, to enjoy?
Owain: No, I would say when I first started, 2008, those first couple of months, I would say it was a chore, you know what I mean? It was getting out to, I started running and ran the meadows, so worked throughout the meadows. And the first time I went running, I was like, I’ve got to run all the way around the meadows and that’s going to be my target, and I go about 200 meters and I was like, “There’s plenty going on. I’m going to practice for this.” It was, it was before we got to the park, I was going off too fast and I thought running was just full tilt and nothing about pace, and nothing like that. There’s some dark days in my running career, if you want to call it that, test of hard work and your legs are sore the next days and for days.
Leszek: So what’s for you now? You’ve been running for 10 years now. Is there any tips for people who are just starting? There are a lot of people at the Fitness Soul or the people who might watch this or listen to it who are just starting because running is becoming quite popular.
Owain: Yes its massive now, which is fantastic to see and I think things like park runs, your weekly 5k which Edinburgh got. We got 3 local ones. They are fantastic to get people kind of out and running, and free events, but I think…
Leszek: So how would you start? What’s the best way?
Owain: I really like the programs. Couch to 5k programs, they’re free to find, I think NHS has got them on their website, and it’s basically walk-run, walk-jog for a set period of time and you just slowly build up until you can fully run a 5k without stopping, and I think that’s absolutely perfect. If I’d had that when I started running, I might have enjoyed it a bit more to start with. But it’s just perseverance, I doubt anybody loves running when they first start. Its hard work.
Leszek: Because it’s super hard.
Owain: A lot of people have tried a treadmill first, they build to do a 5k on a treadmill, but running outside is completely different. I mean, it’s a hundred percent your body moving you forward, on a treadmill you got something running underneath you.
Leszek: And you can jump up and down.
Owain: It’s not the same, I think if somebody wants to get into running, first I would say is get decent trainers. Spend a bit of money on the trainers, that’s what helped me, keep me motivated cause’ at the time until recently, trainers were about 70 quid, they’re a bit more expensive now.
But at that time, 70 pound to me, I was like, “I’m not letting them sit in the cupboard and do nothing, I’m going to use them.” So spend the money, it’s an investment. They save you from a lot of injuries in the long run.
Leszek: But 70 quid or even a 100 quid is like 2 months’ worth of membership somewhere or maybe couple of sessions with a PT and you it have for like, maybe not for life, but for business.
Owain: And if you’re starting out, you’re probably looking at a pair of trainers once every 6 months, once every 7 months or even longer than that, depends how often you go out and run. See, it’s well worth it. And then get a good training program that’s easy to follow, something they enjoy doing, which the couch to 5k is ideal. A lot of people I know have kind of got a training program that they thought, “That sounds amazing! It’s like “run 10k in under an hour.” Which is everybody’s dream when you first started running.
Leszek: This is what you want to do.
Owain: That’s what you want to do, so you get a training plan to do that, and unless you’re very lucky and talented and you can pull it off, then well done! But most people need a bit more effort or can practice at it so the couch to 5k is perfect.
Leszek: Any tips on actual running techniques? Because when you go online now, you got thousands of different ways on running. How are you finding this? What’s your strategy?
Owain: Ignore them all, do whatever is natural to you. I’ve read so many different things about, “run to your heart rate”, “run to your cadence”, “run to so many breaths per step”. I’ve never lost to any of it, maybe I’m just lucky. I just go out and enjoy it and just stay relaxed. If I start tensing up, then I find my breathing get shallower and I get stitches and things like that, so I think, just enjoy running, and you could read so much stuff online and it won’t help you run cause’ you’re just reading it. The only thing that’s going to make you a better runner is actually going out and running. That’s probably my advice, to ignore what everybody else says, unless that it’s your coach, and just enjoy it.
Leszek: And just enjoy?
Owain: Absolutely, running’s meant to be enjoyable, if you’re not a racer, don’t worry about it, some people love running to race, I enjoy racing, I enjoy kind of going faster and faster, other people just enjoy the freedom of where their trainers take them, you know what I mean, you can tour around some amazing cities, see amazing places just by following your trainers.
Leszek: And just going around the city is an…
Owain: Find what inspires you to run and just grab hold of it.
Leszek: And you’re a great example of running is good for losing weight as well?
Owain: Absolutely, Yeah, when I first started, I didn’t change my diet at all, and just by running I lost the weight. And then you do get a kind of plateau where you have to change something to get faster. So I have changed my diet just last year, especially for sterling marathon and I have lost a lot of bit more weight, but running just burns calories so easily and yeah, you get out of breath but the feeling you get afterwards is just a feel good feeling.
Leszek: Especially that you are outside all the time.
Owain: Oh yeah! Absolutely.
Leszek: And you are lucky to be in an amazing city.
Owain: Yeah, running around Edinburgh is. There’s so many green spaces and parks and cycle paths and Arthur’s seat if you really want to be adventurous. Yes, there’s just so much to see and do, and skin’s waterproof, so just go out in the rain, it’s cold after all, and you’re going to get wet at some point, so you just have to enjoy it.
Leszek: So at this moment, after 10 years of running, do you do anything else aside from running? Any cross training’s or something?
Owain: I should, and I say this all the time. Mandy is really good, she does cross training and swimming and kind of speed classes and things like that. I just run, I’d be lying if I hadn’t thought of it, doing more, kind of cool works. I know I need it, but I’m not changing anything this close to sterling marathon.
Owain: But I definitely kind of penciled in my diary of once I’ve recovered from sterling and get back to the gym and just work on my core strength and leg strength, coz I’ve been toying with an idea of doing an ultra-marathon in July coz I love the trails, I love running off road, but I need leg strength for that.
Leszek: But you’ve been running all winter on the trail.
Owain: I have, yeah.
Leszek: How do you compare? Which do you prefer? I know, you told me you preferred trails actually.
Owain: Yeah, I just love the off road, I love a technical trail race where you can twist and turn and ducking under branches and things like that.
Leszek: It must be better for your body as well, and for your legs, because you’re not hitting the same spots all the time.
Owain: Absolutely, yeah! It’s slower, if you compare a 10k on the trail to a 10k on the road, you’ll definitely run slower, but you’ll probably work harder. So it’s usually hard to compare times, but it gives you a full body workout and if you don’t feel like you’ve been hit by a bus by the end of a trail run race, then you done it wrong.
Leszek: So maybe this is your answer for actually doing cross training.
Owain: Yeah, but I think if I do cross training, it would probably benefit me even more, just coz’ I will be stronger in the core, stronger in the legs. Working in an office five days a week you tend to hunch over a desk a lot so it’s generally kind of trying.
Leszek: And stretching often. Have you tried yoga? Or rolling?
Owain: I’ve tried Body Balance, which I think is a mix of yoga, Pilates and all those kinds of things. I didn’t really get it. I came out of it going, “I don’t what I got from that.” Other people are sweating buckets and saying, “That’s a really good workout.” I think I was probably doing it wrong.
Leszek: Yeah, but they don’t run a hundred kilometers a week.
Owain: No that’s true. I definitely will be looking at doing more gym work. Maybe drop my miles down slightly, just so I can find time because something has to give. You can’t expect to do seventy miles a week, do the gym, and have a life, and work. It was 5 days. Something has to drop.
Leszek: Do you have any goal, which I know there’s the marathon in four weeks. Then you’re going to have the Ultra. But is there anything, in five years, that something you want to achieve, or something where you want to run or?
Owain: Good question.
Leszek: Something about maybe not necessarily time. It’s not about this as well.
Owain: That’s not the only thing. I’d would like to inspire other runners. It’s not even about myself getting a time.
Leszek: I think you’re doing this already.
Owain: Thank you. In five years’ time, I’d like to be still running. That’s my only goal. I’d hate to get a horrendous injury that takes me out of running. I do enjoy cycling but I can’t see the competitive side of things from there and I’m quite competitive.
Leszek: You have to have this aspect as well?
Owain: Yeah. I’ve tried swimming. I can splash around in a pool, but I’m not a very good swimmer. I’d like to think in five years’ time I’m still running.
Leszek: How old are you now?
Leszek: 36, easy.
Owain: Yeah, I’ve still got time.
Leszek: I run today and there was a guy in his 80s I think, overtaking me. So there’s still a lot of time for you.
Owain: There’s plenty of time. But hopefully, I’m still running. We’ll see how the Ultra thing goes. I might like it. I might not. I don’t know.
Leszek: Ultra seems to be very, very addictive, isn’t it?
Leszek: I was reading a lot about the Ultras, playing with ideas. Some of them are crazy.
Owain: Well, what I like about it is the community side of things. There seems to be a real kind of everybody’s in it together. There’s not any kind of elite-ness about it, which you can sometimes get in the road races. You’ve got the really good fast guys that don’t speak to anybody.
Leszek: Oh really?
Owain: But in Ultras, especially the FoxTrail series, it’s just like one big family, which I loved. That’s my kind of thing. It’s more about the enjoyment of running, which I’ve said before. The Ultra community seems to be really friendly, a real big family. Everyone knows each other really well. In some cases, it’s not about the time that they run the Ultras. It’s just about completing it and that’s their goal, which is pretty nice; there’s no pressure there.
Leszek: It’s less sport isn’t it? It’s more like lifestyle.
Owain: Yeah. I think so. I think that’s a good way of describing it. It is a lifestyle choice. I think you have to be slightly nutty in the head to do the really long distances. I know some guys that do twenty-four hour races.
Leszek: For me the one that really inspires me, I probably would never do it, but there is Badwater. Have you heard about Badwater?
Leszek: The one in where you would run in the desert; it’s like hundred miles. It’s somewhere in US.
Owain: Oh okay.
Leszek: Which is crazy. They say it is really hot. It’s just incredible.
Owain: There are a couple of races that I would like to do that are on my bucket list. I’d quite fancy going over to America, and doing either the Boston or New York Marathon. I’ve never been to America so that would be a big quite nice trip to do. I quite fancy the West Highland Way, Ultra Marathon, just to say that I’ve done it. So that wouldn’t be for a competitive time. Unless I managed to get pretty good at the Ultra stuff. I think it’s just to tick it off and say, “I’ve run through that part of Scotland.” It would be amazing, beautiful.
Leszek: I think the longer the race is, it’s more about your head than your body, isn’t it? I think a five-kilometer you can just bash it. There’s no time for thinking.
Owain: Yeah. The longer it is, the more time you’ve got in your head. You just have to keep pushing through it I think. That’s what I’ve learned this year, training for Sterling, is that I’m actually stronger than I think I am. I can work things through my head and just keep pushing.
I think two years ago when I did my last marathon, I was a bit weaker in the head. When things got tough, I’d stop and walk. There’s absolutely no shame in walking a marathon. These things happen for whatever reason. Looking back, I probably started a bit sooner than I probably would now.
You learn so much about yourself just running, whether it’s a mile, five miles, 10k, a marathon. It’s time on your own in your head. Sometimes I run with headphones on but most of the time I don’t bother. I just listen to nature and it just sort things out. It’s good.
Leszek: Awesome. Awesome. Right, I know you’ve got that, I was reading a lot on your blog, what’s your blog’s name?
Leszek: It’s your blog and your wife’s as well?
Leszek: And you’re sharing a lot of things about running? Any running tips there?
Owain: We’re kind of doing it two sides. Mandy kind of blogs about her fitness. She unfortunately suffers from Graves’ disease. She blogs about how she manages her Graves’ disease with her running and her health. She runs for enjoyment. She’s still targeting the sub-1-hour for 10k. But it’s very much about getting out there and enjoying running again because she has been pretty ill at times.
My side of the blog is about my training, about my running, my racing. I don’t think there are many training tips or such in there. I tend not to go on about what I’ve done in my training. You might swat up my Strava, but that’s about it. I just do the efforts that my coach tells me to do and that’s it. I’ll sometimes blog about, “I’ve had a good run,” or if I’ve have a bad run, I’ll still blog about it. I won’t hide away from bad times.
Leszek: Well, definitely because they are happening a lot.
Owain: Absolutely. You can sometimes read about blogs, there are always good stories. “I’ve had another fantastic run. I’ve had another fantastic run.” It’s not always like that. Even If you’re a good runner, you’ll have bad days. I mean your legs will be hurt and your lungs will be hurt.
Leszek: Or even bad moments.
Owain: Yeah. Oh absolutely. Between any run, you can have a tough mile, you just have to work through it and see how it goes. In our blog, we share it. It balances itself out quite nicely, we’ve got the racing side and the non-racing side. So yes. It’s pretty good.
Leszek: I know you got a sponsor as well. You’re just wearing the…
Leszek: From them.
Owain: Yeah. I’ve been lucky enough.
Leszek: When you get there, when you are a sponsored athlete, you’re doing something good.
Owain: It was pretty amazing. I’ve been with Ashmei for… this will be the third year now. I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to stay on for another year.
Leszek: Do they have a team or runners?
Owain: This year they’ve started with a run team. So they’ve got a run team, a triathlon team, and a cycle team. They’ve also got an adventure team as well now. There’s a couple of Edinburgh runners, Edinburgh adventurers. But they’re signed up now as well. We’re a small group, I think there’s five runners last year, but there’s twenty sponsored athletes through Ashmei, altogether. So yes, it’s a brilliant brand. They do cycle clothing, tri-clothing and running clothing.
Leszek: Are they based in the UK?
Owain: They’re based just outside of London so British company.
Leszek: That’s handy.
Owain: Yeah, it’s really good. It still takes me a bit of time to drive down to see them every so often, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it.
Leszek: We’ll post the links to your blog.
Leszek: And also to their website, if it’s all right with you.
Owain: That would be fine.
Leszek: So they have a look. If you have any discount code, we will take it as well. Right, I think I’m getting a little bit cold.
Owain: Cool. It is Scotland after all.
Leszek: It’s getting dark. I’m holding this. But it was an amazing chat. I wish you all the best for the next run.
Owain: Thank you so much.
Leszek: And then hopefully, we’ll do this again at some point and we’ll share a little bit more information. Maybe next time you can take Mandy with you, so we can have like from both side.
Owain: Yeah, that was good.
Leszek: Anyway, thank you very much.