Having unbelievably managed to stick to my post-marathon plan of improving my times over shorter distances (10K – 43:57, HM – 1:39:42 etc) and managing to get my 5K time to under 21 minutes (20:47) I thought it would be great if I could get under the 20 minute mark before the year was out, so after following some training advice of doing km repeats at slightly faster than goal pace, plus 400m intervals at even faster, I thought November was when I would try and actually go for it. The video above shows my attempt(s)! Spoiler alert – I did manage it with a time of 19:51 and I was over the moon, happy that I would go into my next marathon training block (for Manchester Marathon in April 2023) a much better runner (and perhaps more importantly, a more confident runner) than I was going into Brighton Marathon a year before.
Of course nothing is ever simple, and as I write this I think I’ve hurt my Achilles tendon, possibly from doing an interval session out on the icy streets in that unusually cold spell we had last week. Therefore I’ve had about a week off running and have decided to can the idea of trying to PB my 10K time again at tonight’s Chase the Moon at Battersea Park. It only hurts when I stretch it though, so I’m going to avoid doing that and maybe try and do a short easy run later this afternoon so what happens. I guess I’ll try and rest up though and stick to cycling over the xmas period so I don’t do anything stupid before starting marathon training on 2nd Jan.
This film came out yesterday, and I’m in it. I mean I’m really in it. I didn’t get cut like King of Thieves (the Michael Caine film) and I’m very pleased. As you can see there’s some rather well known Hollywood A list in there, but also it’s got the likes of Rufus Jones and Emily Lloyd-Saini in, the latter of which I worked with on Kiell Smith-Bynoe’s Channel 4 Blap (Red Flag). I only worked on it for a day (got paid for two ;)) but I had great fun doing my scene with Cynthia Addai-Robinson and although I didn’t have any scenes with Kristen Bell, Allison Janney or Ben Platt, I did meet them all on the zoom readthrough. Also Claire Scanlon the director is fantastic and so nice. Check it out on Amazon Prime.
Holly Hall is a friend of mine who I met a few years ago when we were doing a VT sketch for the Last Leg on Channel 4. We were interviewing Mr Blobby, naturally. He jumped on me at the end. Of course. Anyway Holly won the BBC New Comedy Award last year and as result was given her own BBC3 short, which she wrote. It’s on YouTube now but it’s better for her ratings etc I believe if you watch it on iPlayer. It’s only 10 minutes and has some amazing people in it including Kate Robbins, Fiona Allen and Kiell Smith-Bynoe. Oh yes and she was kind enough to put me in it as well. Thank you.
Last Sunday I ran the Cabbage Patch 10 miler with my friends Dale and Sarah. The race was on the same day as the Great South Run (another 10 mile or 16.1K race) which I ran last year in a time of 1:28:08. A few weeks ago during the heat wave I managed 1:21:25 at the Harry Hawkes 10 mile, but I knew I could do better than that. I went in to Sunday’s race aiming for sub 1:15:00 which I knew was ambitious but I’d got 1:16:something on Strava for 10miles during my Big Half PB so I thought that might be doable. Anyway I was on pace for about the first 8K/5 miles and then I lost it. I managed to pick up the pace a bit at the end but managed to scrape an official time of 1:15:01! So a little annoyed I was only 2 seconds over my goal it’s still a massive PB so I can’t complain. That means to date I have the following PBs:
1 mile – 6:00
5K – 20:47
10K – 43:57
10mile – 1:15:01
Half Marathon – 1:39:42
Marathon – 3:53:50
I’m very happy with those. I don’t have any more races booked in for the rest of 2022 so I’m going to just try and keep my consistent training up till the end of the year when I start training for Manchester Marathon 2023. However, I may be tempted to try and break the infamous sub-20 5K barrier before the end of the year. Watch this space…
I had a lovely time working on Ghosts earlier this year, hanging round with Kiell, Charlotte and the gang in that iconic house for a few days. Caroline Sheen played my wife who was also great. Our episode was out on Friday on BBC1 and on iplayer here. It’s a big episode if you’re a fan of the show!
I was very happy with my performance at the Southend 10K on Sunday, which I ran with my friend Sam. I was aiming for under 45 minutes, which eluded me at the ASICS 10K a few weeks ago, and I managed it comfortably, even sneaking in just under 44 minutes with a new PB time of 43:57. Did a little video of it!
Over the moon with this one. Ran The Big Half for the first time on Sunday, hoping to beat my previous PB of 1:48 which I did during Brighton Marathon in April. Aiming for under 1h 45minutes but managed to sneak in just under 1h 40 at 1:39:42! My previous official PB last September was 2:02:00 at the Hampton Court Palace Half so that’s a pretty massive improvement. Let’s try and keep this going!
Trying is a comedy drama show that goes out on Apple TV starring Rafe Spall and Esther Smith. It’s a really nice show that people love but not a lot of people I know have seen it. You should really check it out. I’m in episode 3 of this new series playing Jared, an AA group leader who gets some very funny scenes throughout the episode with Oliver Chris’s character. Lots of fun to film.
Here’s a new sketch by my friend Ben Green who also stars as Darren. He asked me to play Stuart and I was delighted to do it alongside our friend Alexis Strum. It’s funny, plus it’s short. What’s not to like?
On Sunday 10th July I ran the ASICS 10K with over 7000 other people, in rather hot conditions in the mid to high 20s. Since recovering from the marathon in April, I’ve been running fairly consistently, aiming for 50K/30miles per week, with a little blip brought on my some possible food poisoning/stomach bug., so I thought I’d aim for sub 45 mins in the 10K distance. The heat got the better of me and I was struggling around 8km where I lost my time buffer, but was very happy considering all that to finish with a time of 45:44. Hopefully I’ll manage to go sub 45 in my next, hopefully cooler 10K race!
[You can watch all of these embedded videos which comprise my “Rich Runs a Marathon” vlog series at this YouTube playlist]
On April 10th 2022 I ran the Brighton Marathon. It was my first marathon and at the time I thought perhaps it would be my only marathon. My friend Dale had entered for 2021 but because he found out he had secured a place at the London Marathon that year, which then clashed with the COVID-delayed Brighton date, he transferred his place to me, deferring it to 2022. To be honest, if he hadn’t offered me his place I’m not sure if I would have simply signed up to a marathon of my own volition. The idea of a marathon always seemed pretty scary. However, the simple verbal acceptance of his place and him doing most of the admin meant I didn’t really give it all that much thought. I’d agreed to do a marathon “some time next year” but I didn’t need to worry too much about it for now.
Of course the thing with time is that things which at first appear to be a long way away get closer, and end up not being so far away at all. I knew in the back of my mind I would probably be doing a 16 week training plan and I’d probably be starting that in the New Year. So when we were getting towards the end of 2021 and I casually decided to count back 16 weeks from the date of the race, I realised that I would have to actually start my training in December. The 20th of December to be exact.
Now I’d started running during the first lockdown in March 2020. Before that I had very occasionally (over the last 15 years or so) attempted to run a 5K on a treadmill at the gym, mostly walking for a large part of it and possibly deciding I’d had enough at 3K. But with the encouragement of starting a virtual challenge with some friends of mine, and the government’s allowance to exercise outside once a day, I started running outside for the first time in a very long time indeed. Over the next several lockdown weeks I managed to start running 5K without stopping, then 6K, working my way up to 10K, 12K, 16.1K (10 miles) etc up to the half marathon distance of 21.1K/13.1 miles. By 2021 I’d managed to get my 5K time down to 22:15, my 10K to 47:46 and my half marathon time to around 1h:49 (Unofficially, just on Garmin/Strava). I’d learned the hard way about getting the right shoes and socks as I started off running in £40 trainers and normal socks which had led to sore toes, lost/black nails and occasional niggles in my legs. All of these issues started to go away with my first pair of Brooks Launch 7 shoes and some 1000 mile socks. Since then I have moved on to using toe socks and wearing Brooks Ghosts for most of my training runs, and Saucony Endorphin Speeds for speed work and races (including the marathon itself). (EDIT: I now have a pair of Nike Vaporflys for races which I love).
Of course after getting what I considered “quite good” at running during 2020, I fell out the habit and started running less and less, losing a lot of fitness in the process. I was disappointed with my first “official” time of 2h 02 at the Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon in September 2021 and my 1h 28 time at the Great South Run 10 mile race the following month, because I knew I’d run those distances much faster just out on the street.
Anyway by the time I started my training plan on December 20th I had run very little in the preceding weeks and had a bit of a mountain to climb to be ready for April.
Regarding the choice of plan, I settled on the Garmin Intermediate Marathon Plan, partly because I have a Garmin watch. I eschewed the beginners plan to try and push myself, and wondered if I could do it under 4 hours if I got some previous fitness back. The advantages of the Garmin plan over others were clear in that I could easily sync the workouts to my watch (Garmin Forerunner 245) so for example for interval or threshold workouts the watch would tell me when to run hard and when to rest, and I wouldn’t have to program those in myself. I could also move the workouts around using the calendar on my laptop if I needed to. However I did cross reference the plan occasionally with other plans supplied by Runners World, The Marathon Handbook, and Brighton Marathon itself. Of course, as I was out the habit of running and my first week was over Christmas, it was a bit of a disaster and I skipped most of the workouts, only running about 7km.
Once I’d got over that terrible first week I started to stick to the plan generally pretty well, aside from skipping the occasional easy or recovery run. It was a real shock to the system though running four or even five times a week, as even when I was running more regularly I would usually have taken a day or two off between runs and rarely run on consecutive days. I’d learned by now though about slowing down and running in low heart zones, which I never did before. At first during the plan I definitively felt like my fitness had decreased as I struggled to run at speeds I previously found relatively easy, and my heart rate seemed to get quite high.
January and February were also quite unusually busy for me workwise. I spent a couple of weeks up in Edinburgh shooting a TV show which involved long days resulting in squeezing in runs on the treadmill before a quick dinner and bed, although I did manage a couple of nice long runs around Edinburgh at the weekends. It was also in Edinburgh I decided to get a second hand GoPro to make my vlogging easier.
By the time I was half way through the plan I was definitely feeling like I was getting fitter and faster, and was running the furthest I had ever run. I’d also been consciously researching running tips at the same time and had been working on my running form, in particular my running cadence. Having previously let my cadence slip into the 150s for easy runs I’d been working on increasing it to 165 and above by taking shorter steps thus reducing my impact with the floor and my vertical movement. This also seemed to allow me to run faster while keeping my heart rate lower. (EDIT: I now run a lot of my easy runs with a cadence of 170, and get up to 180 at faster paces).
I finished the training plan feeling pretty good and confident that I could at least run the marathon and get over the line. I’d done a couple of runs over 30K which helped psychologically that on the day I would only have another 10K to go, plus I’d managed to pull back my half marathon PB back down under 1hr 50 and even managed a 5K parkrun PB time of just over 22 minutes.
I had experienced my first leg soreness after doing the long long runs combined with doing leg strength work, but I managed to ease these with stretching and haven’t encountered those since (touch wood). I’d practised with gels and high 5 tablets and got a list of things I would need to take for the day itself, so was feeling nervous but confident.
Brighton didn’t have a bagdrop on the day (EDIT: there’s been a lot of things reported about the organisers now) so all participants had to go down the day before to drop off things and pick up their race bibs. I packed an old comfy pair of trainers to change into (I hear other runners pack flip flops) along with fresh pants, jogging bottoms, T shirt along with some water, protein bars etc. On the day I took my hydration vest with a litre of water in it, plus several gels (knowing some would be handed out), my GoPro with spare batteries, and that all important Factor 50. (EDIT: I now run with a hat)
After starting the race I felt fresh and pretty good, although I realised I hadn’t really decided on what pace to run! I’d thought about aiming for under 4 hours with a margin for error pace of around 5:27min/km but I ended up going off faster than that. I covered the first 5K in 22 minutes and was halfway by 1hr 48 (which was a PB) which I thought was probably too fast, and sure enough by about 25K I was starting to struggle and having to walk a little bit. I walked a few more times when collecting water from the aid stations and by about 32K/20miles I was thinking how great it would be just to stop, and I convinced myself that going under 4 hours didn’t matter. But by the time I got to only having 5K left and realised I could still go under 4 hours if I ran a relatively easy 5K in 30 to 35 minutes (a pace of over 6:00min/km), that gave me the motivation I needed to keep pushing, and along with the amazing crowds, I managed to get over the line in 3hr 53.
Getting over that line while still being upright and capable of walking was such an amazing feeling that it wasn’t long before I started wondering whether I could’ve done even better if I’d planned my pacing better or taken gel-alternative nutrition… so sure enough I signed up for Manchester marathon for 2023. In the meantime I plan to not throw away that marathon fitness and keep up a consistent weekly mileage, perhaps beat some shorter distance PBs (I actually managed a 21:36 5K time a couple of weeks ago) and then go into Manchester Marathon next year even fitter. I’m thinking about trying to get closer to 3hr 30… anyway. Watch this space!
(EDIT: I have now beaten all my PBs – check out the latest ones below)
By the way to sum up the training plan, I ended up running the following mileage over the 16 weeks:
*the race itself
You may be surprised, as it’s not a huge weekly mileage on average, but where I perhaps missed the odd easy run, I generally kept up the “quality” sessions, so the tempo/threshold runs, the intervals, and the long run. Also if you check out this blog post where someone pulled weekly mileage out of Strava for various marathon times, you’ll see I wasn’t not a million miles (no pun intended) away.
You can look at the marathon run itself on Strava, and download the Garmin training plan here.
I met Kiell Smith-Bynoe at a tableread a few years ago, then saw him again just before Ghosts was about to come out. Of course now he’s a superstar, so it was great to work with him for a few days earlier this year on Ghosts, and I was over the moon when he asked me to be in his sketch show pilot, a Channel 4 Blap. It was a lot of fun to shoot, and the whole thing turned out great. There’s some other great people in it too. Do check it out – hopefully it’ll get a series! I’m in the “Murder Mystery” sketch after about 8:21
Friday night was an unusual scenario for me for three reasons. Firstly, I was in two TV shows broadcasting on the same night, on the same channel (BBC1). The first show was the new Tom Basden comedy starring Katherine Parkinson and Jim Howick, Here We Go (formally Pandemonium). The second was long running Lee Mack comedy, Not Going Out.
So the second unusual, and I dare I say it, interesting thing about this particular Friday night is that both characters I played had dogs. My character in Here We Go was actually credited as “Dog Owner”, and my Not Going Out character was a tree surgeon named Tom Taylor.
Now let’s get on to the third thing. I’ve been cut from a few things over the years – it’s just the way it sometimes goes – but never have I experienced what I did for Here We Go. Originally I was actually “Man On Phone” as my dialogue with Katherine and Jim is actually via speakerphone before they return my dog to me. When the producers asked me to come and do some additional ADR (an archery commentator, a radio DJ) they nervously informed me that they’d actually re-recorded my dialogue as I didn’t sound nasty enough. In fact, it is now Ed Kear who effectively plays my voice in the episode. Oh well, that’s another story for the podcast! You should be able to hear me as the archery commentator in Episode 4.
Now here’s a funny one. I got offered a part in Bloods, the comedy on Sky, which unfortunately clashed with something else I was shooting at the time. They very kindly offered me another part, but that disappeared in a rewrite. So again very kindly, they offered me a small role of a paramedic in episode 5 which came out on Wednesday. Great to work with Sam Kayo and the legendary Jan Horrocks, but my goodness that trolley was a pain to get on the back of that ambulance.
Here’s me as a Bloodthirster in the new Total War: Warhammer III which was released last month. I’ve been making this really funny joke on the socials about these being the unprocessed clips where they’re clearly processed. I’m laughing now just thinking about it.
Here’s something a little unusual. Last year I recorded the audio for the part of Mr Scraps in a kids show that would be performed at the delayed Dubai Expo 2020. As well as the normal dialogue I had a little song including a rap. We did it remotely from my home studio where I was directed over Zoom by people in Australia, Dubai and Egypt! And here is a video of the show with a bald gentleman miming to my recording.
You can watch an official video (which I can’t embed) here.
A wonderful man who has employed me again and again is director Tommy Forbes, and he got me in yet again to play a scientist in Southampton FC’s new kit launch video. My job, along with my fantastic assistant, Yuriko Kotani, was to extract DNA from a number of players, past and present. That’s Che Adams I’m antagonising in that photo (with a mop on my head), and James Ward-Prowse, Matt Le Tissier and Franny Benali were among the others. Lots of fun, and you can watch it here:
Very happy to get this episode out. Abi was really great and this episode turned our very well. We probably planned it out a bit more carefully than previous efforts (for Tim Plester’s episode, for example, we actually filmed two alternate endings but then used both!) but it was still a tricky edit! Always have to throw away such good stuff!