Miles Skinner trained to run 10 marathons in seven days to raise money for the Monte San Martino Trust. Accompanied by two companions on bicycles, Miles left Lucca on April 26th 2015, aiming to reach St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, on May 2nd. The total distance is 420km. Here is Miles’s training blog as he prepared for the challenge.
For the day-by-day blog of the run itself, go to
February 28th, 2015: Starting uphill
So just how do you go about training for 10 marathons in 7 days? Unlike the marathon training I was doing last year, where I was mixing interval sessions and sprint work with almost daily 10 mile runs, this time I need to clock up significant weekly mileage and work on core stability and strength. I am therefore running three times a week (one of these is a very long run), doing two core stability sessions and one cross-training. I have hired a personal trainer for one session a week.
One of the toughest elements to my training so far has simply been trying to find the time to do any! Starting a new role back in London, having spent 15 months living a relaxed continental lifestyle in Frankfurt, where the Germans have seemingly found the appropriately work-life balance, has undoubtedly been difficult.
Eating and sleeping well have arguably become the two most important elements and, while an obvious point, getting the right amount of sleep for my body to recover has been fundamental to staying fit and getting the most from my training. A revolutionary turnaround in my diet has also assisted and my next blog will cover some of these weird and wacky elements!
To read the full story about why Miles is raising money for MSMT, go to http://prod.msmtrust.org.uk/news/ten-marathons-in-seven-days/.
To support Miles through his fundraising, please go to his Just Giving page.
Just over 6 weeks to go now and the realisation of what lies ahead has really kicked in. I have been building up my long runs over the last few weeks and having run 27 miles last Sunday (and not feeling too bad for it), levels of optimism were running reasonably high.
This weekend though was a good leveller and having run a gentle 11 miles on a beautiful sunny morning in Richmond Park, I then followed this up with a 30 mile Sunday run, taking 4 hours to complete. I found it particularly tough, partly because I was tired from a long working week leading up to it and also because I hadn’t drunk enough water. This certainly served to emphasise one of the fundamental components to nutrition and diet which is hydration, and this is going to be a massive factor in the Italian hills.
On this occasion, I didn’t quite get it right and this led to sluggish muscles and tired limbs in the latter half of the run. Without enough water or salts, dehydration can quickly come about and I do find that this effects my energy levels and recovery times enormously.
From my 30 mile run, I burnt off an estimated 4,400 calories and the biggest problem I am finding is just how to put back those calories and ‘good’ calories into my body. Porridge with nuts and chia seeds, followed by eggs and sometimes spinach have become my breakfast norm. Avocado, oatcakes and nuts a constant snack and then anything else I can charge down before as hearty lunch as possible and then more eating!
I’m not quite there in getting the balance right but with the aim of 4-5 meals a day, the anecdote I’m trying to follow is:
“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, dine like a pauper!”
The next couple of weeks are now focusing on core strength and stability, and the importance of the 3 B’s as I have been advised. Details of that and the essential toe exercises I have been doing in my next blog!!
In the last fortnight, I have entered into the heaviest bulk of my training and the inevitable niggles have started to creep in.. the odd blister, strain and sore muscle, but my body is seemingly holding up quite well at this stage and long may that continue! Last weekend I ran 2 marathons in 2 days – on the Saturday in a time of 3 hours 20 minutes and on the Sunday managing 3 hours 26 minutes. This was undoubtedly at too quick a pace as I will be running far slower in Italy, however in trying to fit in my running around lots of other things going on, I probably pushed the pace to try to get the training done in a shorter amount of time. With eating well around my running and stretching, the time factored in to all the training is huge. When I am in Italy though, it is going to be really important to maintain a slow, steady pace in order to ensure I preserve my muscles and after all it’s a marathon (or quite a few) not a sprint!!
Only 4 weeks to go now and having dedicated the last few months to early morning training, very healthy eating and a complete overhaul in lifestyle, I feel in a good state of fitness and just really want to get started.
I mentioned the importance of the 3 B’s in my last blog – Belly, Bum and Big toe – and it is quite remarkable how fundamental these elements are to the long distance runner. Core stability and strength are of the utmost importance, and strong abdominal muscles and hips/pelvis/bum mean that when you’re running, the pressures going through your body can be spread out. Many runners complain of bad knees and this can often come about as a result of poor core strength, whereby posture isn’t what it might be and too much pressure is exerted down into the knees.
Interestingly, the strength of one’s big toe is also not to be overlooked (!) as this provides stability and balance when the foot hits the ground and as you can imagine, I’m going to be taking a fair number of steps in the 262 miles so need my feet to grip the ground well and provide balance.
Training aside, it has also been a busy few weeks on the organisational front. I have engaged with social media in a big way – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – in order to drum up further support for the challenge and MSMT, and was particularly pleased when my childhood hero, Matt Le Tissier (former Southampton and England footballer, now sports pundit) ‘re-tweeted’ my post – this is where someone effectively publishes your message on their own personal page. He has over 430,000 people who ‘follow’ him or regularly review his page so hopefully this will increase awareness.
The countdown now really begins and in 4 weeks from now, I will be in the Tuscan hills!!
April 13th: Time to taper…
The start date draws ever nearer and I am experiencing a whole range of emotions and feelings about the challenge – excitement, nervousness, determination, resolve, enthusiasm and trepidation! I feel like I have put the hard yards in (quite literally) and am really looking forward to getting out to Lucca and starting the first run on April 26th.
Frustratingly, a few niggles have started to creep in in the last few days and so I am trying to find the right balance between maintaining my current levels of fitness while also not doing anything to aggravate any current soreness or strains. Physiologically, I don’t think my fitness will change much now before the event so I just need to concentrate on being as fresh as possible.
I have started to get a minor ache in my left shin so with some precautionary physio, icing and regular stretching, I am taking no risks to ensure that I am in peak condition when I hit the start line. In fact, I have even started to wear compression socks into work! For those who have not worn such socks before, they are incredibly tight around the muscles and typically go up to just below the knee. The idea is that the compression aids blood flow and circulation through the muscles, therefore increasing the speed of recovery.
I have been overwhelmed by the generous support of family, friends and in fact people I have met randomly, who have shown real interest in the cause and in the work of the MSMT. Touchingly, a lady I met in a running store made a donation as did a guy I ended up running alongside one evening when running back from work. We began talking and I explained what I was training for – he then went on to my Justgiving page and kindly donated. This really just reinforced how much people can appreciate the incredible nature of generosity shown by the Italian people back during the time when so many PoWS were in Italy, and that the MSMT really is a fantastic cause thoroughly deserving of support.
So with such little time to go before I start, my focus is now on organising my kit and supplies which I will explain more in my next blog. Lots of weird and whacky items will be coming out to Italy with me so it is becoming very precise and scientific now!!
April 23rd. Three days to go
I have been making my final preparations and am really excited about heading out to Italy after months of training. All the hard work – from the long, lonely hours spent running around remote woodland at weekends to the 5.45am Tuesday morning starts to fit in gym sessions before work – has been done and it is now a case of venturing out into the unknown of the Italian countryside. From reviewing my routes, I estimate that I will cover 106 miles in the first three days, certainly something to be pleased with however what really focuses the mind is that the final four days will consist of over 150 miles.. definitely something to keep me grounded and to concentrate on the end goal of arriving in one piece in Rome!
I have tried to limit the potential unknowns of the trip as far as possible and to take account for any potential niggles or injuries that might set in.. I’m sure Boots were pleased with my custom at the weekend as I topped up supplies of blister plasters, paracetamol, ibuprofen, talcum powder, vaseline, rehydration sachets, plasters, germolene, anti-septic gels and many more little gems! I have knee supports and kinesiology tape (the blue tape which is worn by many sportsmen and women to aid blood circulation through the muscles and increase recovery), and plan to have an ice bath after each run, followed by lots of stretching, using my foam roller to ease my muscles, to spray magnesium oil on my legs and then to put on compression tights to aid recovery.
Nutrition will be hugely important while I’m running and I have stocked up on energy gels, high carbohydrate energy bars (a bit like flapjacks), all manner of electrolyte powders and drinks, and will be taking my trusted blender to prepare protein enriched shakes to help my muscles recover.
So lots of preparation but one thing that can’t really ever be accounted for is injury and in fact when running over the Easter weekend, I noticed soreness in my left shin. I eased off immediately, partly because I didn’t want to take any risks and also because I do feel that I have put in the hard yards so a bit of rest would probably not be such a bad thing, particularly as I was planning to taper and reduce my running in the last few weeks before the event anyway. I subsequently went to the physio and after precautionary MRI scans and an x-ray, it was very pleasing to have negative results indicating that there is no stress fracture to the shin bone. The MRI scans did however indicate severe inflammation of the tendons around my left hamstring which wrap around the knee, hence causing pain high up the shin bone. The consultant assured me that I could certainly still run and would do no long term damage by doing so – fantastic news as the thought of not doing the event had never crossed my mind! Pain didn’t worry me but I just didn’t want to risk long term damage.
I am therefore trooping off back to the consultant for some cortisone injections which I have been told will patch me up as a good SOS to get me through and then rest is strongly advised… advice I will heed in abundance once it’s all over!
There will be regular updates from Italy via Facebook, Twitter and this page, so fingers crossed now. I’m sure my grandparents and others will be looking down from above and that thought will hopefully provide the X-factor to see me through!!
As the saying goes, no pain no gain!!