Coaching Updates - January 2019

Wow – it has been an epic period since our last #coachingupdate. One of the million things we love about being #daznbone is the fact that our athletes genuinely inspire us. When they push hard during the notorious winter months we push hard too. When Allan wanted to fast-track his own plan by 1 year (yes getting his Spartathlon place in 2019 rather than 2020) we were like “Yes let’s join you at Flitch 100km and do this together” – did Allan do it – read the guts and story below. When our friend James Ellis wanted to get a 24 hour ultra time 20% better than he’d ever done before we poured ourselves into the 3 month plan. When he was at Athens we spent the 24 hours literally on a WhatsApp group advising his trackside crew (awesome work Gill!!) – Did James make history….READ ON…..

A big thank you to the featured athletes. They have all made us proud to be your coaches.

Jeff Strachan: Dubai Marathon – Jan 2019 – 4hrs 56 minutes – SUB 5hrs achieved.

Dubai Marathon Jeff.jpg

Jeff looking strong as he heads towards the finish.

Jeff has been kind enough to reflect upon the first few months of coaching with us and share where he has felt the most benefit:

*The informal casual banter and encouragement via What's App is complimented by the serious tips and notes on training peaks. To me it feels like training peaks = 'this is coach speaking, follow these instructions and get it done' and What's App is 'c'mon mate, we are really rooting for you and cheering you on'. I love that balance.

*I loved how you realised that getting me plugged into events on the weekend was 'my thing'. I really am not much of a plodder so knowing that I have to commit to and run an event on the weekend gave me really good goals. From September to January I ran six big races including two half marathons and two 20km desert trail races. These really helped keep focus. The 25km training run with Daz really helped understand nutrition and fueling. I didn't hit a 'wall' in the marathon because i was so well briefed on the use of fuel, in particular the Tailwind and the gels. Chatting about fuel also helped to inform the meal plan for the entire month leading up the race, especially the last seven days.

As you will remember from previous coaching blog updates Jeff is really coming from ground zero in his running – let’s call this #coachtomarathon – or #coachtosparta (we will come back to this!)

Anyone who starts running is obviously fearful of the marathon distance. When you are adjusting to a 30 minute run it is always going to feel like another planet to be driving your body forward for anywhere up to 5 hours.

As the training runs get longer so the niggles get more niggly and the nutrition gaps get more cavernous and mysterious. Throw into the mix a desire to complete your first marathon in a particular time and the whole thing can become unnecessarily stressful.

One consistent feature with Jeff has been his unswerving high spirit and his “bounce-back-ability”– by which we mean that if a long run takes “too long” (based on our predicted coaching plan) then Jeff has consistently sat down with us as his coaches and rolled up his sleeves and said “what can we do to get this back on track”. During Jeff’s first ever half marathon finish his subsequent time gave us a predicted marathon time of over 5 hours. We knew and Jeff bought into the idea that we could aim for a sub 5hr at (his first ever marathon) Dubai.

Jeff also shared: “Daz dropped me a lovely note the night before the Marathon. It was a HUGE boost. For weeks, Daz had been talking about TOL (time on legs), he kept talking about TOL, TOL, TOL. He gave me the confidence that I had spent way more than enough TOL to get the race done. His confidence in me was really a big deal. 

*Now we have a new goal - London 2018. I am getting greedy and would love a sub 4.30. You coaches ready? Who knows what will happen after that!

Well Jeff - there is always Spartathlon 2022……


Harvey – This is our first update on Harvey, but he has been with us (on the Marathon PB training plan) since November 2018. When he signed up, he had pedigree in shorter runs but wanted something robust that could see him consider a “sub 4 hour” marathon.

Fast forward three months later and Harvey would smash 4 hours if he ran it today. Such has been his dedication (and tbh we have found a raw talent in there too) that Harvey has literally flown through the first bank of training weeks and daznbone have often found ourselves making big changes to his targets on Training Peaks.

With London now only 2 months away we are looking closely at Harveys last few big training runs and helping him navigate the adoption of a gut-friendly race nutrition plan.

On his experiences with daznbone and his marathon plan Harvey shared: “This is definitely the best shape I’ve ever been in, so in that sense it’s already been a success! The most useful thing is having the structure in place. I do feel very motivated - and that’s partly a result of having the plan and following it. In the past I’ve probably not been as strict with myself about ensuring I squeeze in that extra run to hit my weekly volume of miles.”

Daznbone actually live in the part of London that is quite close to Harvey and he cheekily added:” I guess I might have expected to do more runs face to face with one/ both of you but I know it’s really difficult to get diaries aligned. The ones I have done with you have been great, particularly the longer one with Darren.”


Get that diary out Harvey – we are going to get some of those epic fast and long runs in together this month!

 Allan Anderson - In the last #coachingupdate we shared about Allan’s fantastic progression that ended with a brilliant run-out at Centurion’s Wendover 50 miler. Allan is a great #daznbone athlete. He is really dedicated. He loves throwing loads of fantastic questions our way and he observes his own body and running and then listens to our advice - some of which he follows!!!!

Allan has made so much progress in such a short period of time that we entertained the idea of trying to fast-track his 2020 Spartathlon dream by seeing if he could get a 2019 ballot-place qualifier in what is often known to be the last real UK race (to get a qualifying time) before you need to enter the Spartathlon. The event is the Flitch Way 100km based in Essex, UK and is organised by the great team at Challenge Running. It is 10 x 10km out-and-back loops on a relatively flat trail but with cold, windy, muddy conditions plus a footbridge that feels like a mountain later on it certainly wasn’t lacking a “tough enough” factor.


Daz was also running Flitch with the primary aim of pacing/helping Allan along the way doubling with the chance of getting in a good long training run. Things went smoothly pace wise for the first 50k, going through that marker in around 4hrs 50 and well on track for a shot at the Sub 10 hours mark. Unfortunately though Allan was suffering some bad GI issues which was causing pressure on the time and giving Allan’s confidence a blow. As sometimes happens in the ultra world, when the hard times come a-knocking, it’s more of a battering ram than a knock. Sure enough, towards the end of Lap 6, a combination of factors caused Allan’s pace to crash dramatically and by the time we’d reached the end of the lap it was clear the qualifying chance was gone. Allan was gutted about this and Daz felt the same, worried that he had pushed Allan into something too big too soon.

Time and a bit of analysis is a healer though, and after a few days break Allan is back on his next block of training preparing for his next shot at Sparta qualification at the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k in March. Having seen Allan run so smoothly for the first half of Flitch we’ve no doubt that with a new training block, faster trail conditions and better luck with the stomach, he is going to smash his qualifying goal in 2019.

James Ellis – this coaching update regarding James is one of our proudest to date. We could probably write a book about this one and we wouldn’t do enough justice to the level of commitment that James put in and the fact that he achieved something with us that’s way off the charts of what any of us thought was achievable.

As you may remember from our last coaching update James was looking to gain a Spartathlon specific AQ (auto-qualifying) time by running in the January 2019 Athens 24 hour race. FACTS: James previous PB was 180km and he needed to achieve 216km for an AQ. This amounted to a 20% improvement in performance with a training block that spanned the UK Winter, Family Christmas period and not one but several major illness concerns.

Want to know how James “did it”

Thankfully as a professional journalist James has already written about this on his own brilliant nutrition website. So, click on this link – we promise you that it is full of great learnings.

If we could lift one quote from James to sum up who daznbone are then I think he has nailed it. Thank you James for letting us be a part of this incredible journey….so far. See you at Spartathlon 2019.

“David and Darren have not been coaching for long – by their own admission, they are fledgling coaches who are learning all the time. But I know Darren is the ultimate statto who follows other races, reads up on training plans and devours the blogs of successful runners such as Bob Hearn. David, as well as being a great runner and ultimate guinea pig for Daz’s plans, is also the ultimate PR guy, getting their faces and names out there at every opportunity. They’re a match made in heaven.”


Allez Allez James

Not only an incredible 217km but also onto the podium in an awesome 3rd Place….We salute you James