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The Miracle of March – London Marathon Training with an Alton Sports Ambassador!

After the highs of ‘focus February’ the training continued with Toby (Alton Sports founder and super quick runner) always a text message away giving advice and encouragement.

The month started with a nice parkrun sandwich, I ran 3 miles to parkrun, did the parkrun, scored a PB of 25:23 & unbeknownst to me I did my 50th Parkrun all in a nice neat package. I then had a slow 8 mile run home, Marathon day felt so far away & yet it is closer than I thought.

The week carried on with standard training runs with speed targets thrown in, I also got to attend an Ambassador Day presented by Salomon & we got to try out the Speedcross 5 shoes – I am really warming to trail runs and it’s good to mix up the types of surface you run on.

Sunday 10th March brought the official warm up race for the marathon. I was running in The Big Half in our nation’s capital! I travelled to the event with some other members of my running club and as some of them were a bit quicker and we were all starting in different starting waves Due to the bad weather I was really cold, I was taken pity on and I was given a plastic bin liner to wear before the race, I started to try and maintain some body heat.

This was the second race I have attended and Sir Mo has been competing, however this time I was free to cheer for him, I started about 25 minutes after he started so by the time I got to see him on the other side of the course he had already done six miles, however I made sure I gave him a big loud “Come on Mo” that was obviously what he needed to spur him on to win the whole race.I did have to stop for the first time in a race for a comfort Break but actually once I was back in the race I knew I was against the clock so I really did run as hard as I could. The March Miracle came at the finish when I came in with a chip time of 1:52:13, I had a watch time of 1:51:22, and I even made it on the TV. 

The course was awesome, flat, fast and part of the London Marathon course. The next target Toby has set for me is a sub 1:50 half marathon time, I believe with the right attitude and hard work this is achievable. Sadly the good result I had achieved at London had taken its toll on my ageing body and I walked away with a hip & a knee injury.

I knew I was in pain the moment I tried to do my recovery run and it felt like I was kicked in the rear the further I ran. After consulting with Toby he changed my training plan and instructed me to foam roll, stretch and rest. With my training runs dialled down I was willing my hip to stop hurting. The following Saturday I went for a Toby approved 3 mile run with my running buddy  & chief medical advisor, Nurse May, she said the same thing as Toby and we still managed a fast run covering 5K in 25:10. I was happy with that pace.

As time moved on I found the hip feeling better & I attended an interval session on our local running track, I am not a track person but I did enjoy the session and I gave my hip a good test.

The Friday night came bringing a message from Toby, 18 miles split into three:

  1. Run to parkrun
  2. parkrun as fast as I can
  3. Run home 

I put my big boy shorts on and tried my hardest, I achieved a second parkrun PB of the month in 25:11, looking back it’s only a few seconds but at the time it was a big deal and I was waiting for the award ceremony. Sadly I still had to run a further 8 miles home.

The final week of March presented itself with a personal challenge for me, as always I give Coach Lambert the options my running club have and he chooses if I run with the club or on my own to his targets, this time he picked an 8 mile club run with a much faster group than whom I normally run with. On this night I did 8 miles with the “wolfpack” – I was fortunate because Richard (The speedy Swede and Alton Sports team member) was running that night and like he did at Farnborough he paced me perfectly, to the point that I wasn’t the last “wolf” back to the meeting point. 

March has been a miracle, I have clocked up 110 training miles, overcome an injury and I am looking forward to being on the start line of the London Marathon in Amazing April.

Dave Warman – Alton Sports Ambassador

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A brief history of Alton Sports & fast running with Toby Lambert

You might have seen on our social media that when it comes to running we like to walk the walk as well as talk the talk! We’re made up from a team of keen runners which makes us super-passionate about running and everything we do… and there’s no one more passionate than, Toby Lambert, Alton Sports Director and 2:18 marathon runner! (Top photo credit – Daily Echo)

When did you start running and why?

I enjoyed just keeping fit and generally the more cardio vascular the better. I used to do any CV I could find for as many hours as possible! Row, bike, run and even stairmaster in the gym.

What was your first race?

The 1999 New York City Marathon! My first ever race was a marathon!

What’s the race your most proud of and why?

Mumbai Marathon running for Great Britain in 35/ 40 degree heat. It was a global competition and one person from each country went from around the world to represent their country in all the big city marathons. I was first in the European and Oceana competition in 2.21 and ran 70 minutes 30 for both halves, it was a perfect day.

Give us a rough breakdown of your running PBs?

5 miles – 23:40
10k – 29:30
Half Marathon – 64 min

Marathon – 2:18

You’re obviously a top runner – how do you keep the buzz going?

It’s like brushing my teeth and breathing air – I’ve got to do it, it’s part of life. If I don’t run each day, I’m not alive I’m not breathing.


Tell us all about your trail adventures?

I used to absolutely despise trail – I hated running off-road! I hated anything where I couldn’t use my long stride efficiently. I hated sinking into mud and going nowhere fast but now I love it! I nip into our local woods whenever I get a chance, I love finding the climbs you can hardly walk up let alone run and looking for tricky downhill tree rooted technical descents to master! There’s nothing like it .

I’ve now started to seek out off-road adventure races like the Maverick Races we co-sponsor with some of the great brands we carry in our stores.

Was the transition from road to trail tough?

It was different! I did my first ultra this year which was just under 60km, so just shy of 40 miles in the Lake District. There are hills so steep you need to grip with your finger nails to climb and descents so slippy, you need a sledge! This is all whilst navigating what appears to be a rock climbing film set from the film Cliffhanger or Mission Impossible! Survival is first priority, then trying to run when it’s possible is priority number 2!

It was first time out and I was very cautious for the first 4 hrs out there then put the hammer down with about 20km to go and ploughed through the field! I’ve got the bug and can’t wait to find another.

Tell us about the history of Alton Sports – when did it first open?

At the end of 1999, the shop was transformed from what had been a traditional sports shop to Alton Sports – the running and footwear specialist. As a passionate keep fit enthusiast, I just wanted to provide a place where people could get fitted and actually find proper footwear and equipment for their sports.

I started running about the same time and naturally we just increased our range of running footwear and gear alongside traditional sports footwear. The shop was here for roughy 30 years before 1999 as a traditional sports shop selling everything from fishing line to pellets for rifles and professional catapults! Now here we are with over 50 years in the business and 20 years with myself.

Photo Credit – Flickr User

How does Alton Sports differ from all the other running stores / chains?

All of us at Alton Sports are passionate about sport, keeping fit and being active. We just live it and love it. We aren’t all pros and we aren’t all about fast times or finishing positions (although some of us are!)

Because of this we care about putting everyone in the right footwear and equipment for their sport whether it’s a walk, run, jog, volley, kick , shuttle, swim and more! On top of which we carry probably the most extensive selection of equipment and footwear of anyone in the U.K. We have 5 stores in 5 locations and it means we have different assortments for the different sports and running terrains which are more popular in certain areas.

We are lucky because we have all these shops we can offer all our customers a great choice of location which means an AS Store is never too far away. We buy so much from our suppliers, we are able to offer the best possible experiences and choice and special offer bundles to all our customers giving fantastic free gifts and experiences that give unbeatable value!

Tell us about some of your favourite events / races to go to?

I’ve always loved London and Brighton Marathon! Just buzzing all weekend – it’s like marathon fever!

Myself, my wife Georgie and our dog Benson (Benson has his own lifestyle shop above our Farnham store selling all the cool lifestyle trainers we all wear when we’re not running) love to travel to some of the off-road races we sponsor and try out all the latest off-road gear and wet weather clothing.

Any go to running shoes for road / trail?

I’m living in my Salomon and  inov-8 shoes lately for all my off roading! On the road, recently I’m using a few different ON models and also having some great runs in the latest Brooks shoes with knit uppers like the Bedlam!

Photo credit – QECP parkrun

If someone is reading this and is thinking about getting into running for the first time – what would you say to them?

Just enjoy it – forget the watch or distances – just get out there and even if you spend most time walking do that and build it from there.

Hit us up with some pro tips for all runners!

Running well is more in the mindset than many people think! If you believe you can …..then you can!

Check out everything we do for runners on altonsports.co.uk