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Train Slow to Run Fast with Gareth King

By April 11, 2019May 20th, 2023No Comments
men running in the street a race

Gareth King is a 38 year old runner from Northern Ireland. He lives with his wife Emma and 4 children in Tandragee. I loved reading his recent post in our Extramilest Facebook Group:

“After 7 months of MAF I’ve taken my half marathon time down from last year 1:29:25 to this today 1:20:24. This is a big improvement and I feel my aerobic base is nowhere near where I want it to be. So on goes the MAF journey really enjoying it. #trainslowtorunfast

Gareth was kind enough to give us an insight in his running background, training progress and recommendations for other runners looking to improve. 

Gareth King with his wife Emma and children Matthew, Lucy, Samuel and Sarah.
My wife Emma and my children Matthew, Lucy, Samuel and Sarah.

Where were you born and where do you currently live? 

I was born In Portadown, Co.Armagh Northern Ireland and I currently live in Tandragee, Co.Armagh Northern Ireland.

How long have you been running?

I have been doing the Marathon distance since May 2010 and done my first marathon in 3:34:22. I done this marathon for charity for the Royal Belfast Hospital for sick Children. Our youngest son Samuel was was treated here as he was born with a very serious condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia at birth and required specialist surgery and a lot of care post surgery. We are pleased to say Samuel is today doing really well and is a very happy energetic little boy at 9 years old.  

As for myself I have always been active growing up always playing football. I was also in the Army for 7 years here in Northern Ireland and was very active during this time playing football doing cross country running and triathlon for my battalion. 

What are some of your current PR’s?

My PBs at the minute are  

  • 5k is 17:16 
  • 10k is 35:52 
  • 1/2 marathon 1:20:24 
  • marathon is 3:08:47 

Last year in November i done my first Ultra 40 mile run which had over 5000ft elevation in 5:57:23 placing 6th out of 47 ultra runners. 

Finish Line at Tollymore Ultra Marathon
Finish Line at Tollymore Ultra Marathon 

You recently improved your 1/2 marathon time from a 1:29:25 down to 1:20:24, a PR of more than 9 minutes! What was the biggest difference in your training and racing that you ran such a big PR?

I feel the reason for my recent big PR in the Omagh Half Marathon is down to MAF training. I think a big factor to my progress was the first 8 weeks of MAF training where I done MAF only runs on a keto diet losing 13kg. This made me a more efficient runner and gave me better form. As the next 5 months went by I was able to make consistent progress running at MAF HR. 

My taper for Omagh half was 3 weeks out dropping to 50 miles for the week, 2 weeks out dropped to 40 miles for week and my last week was Monday and Tuesday 4 mile MAF runs, Wednesday was intervals 2 mile WU 4x3minute at HM race pace and 2 mile cool down. Thursday MAF 4 miles, Friday 130bpm treadmill 20 mins. Saturday race day 2 mile WU. Half Marathon 1:20:24 and 2 mile cool down. 

Additional exercise is some core work 20 mins on Monday at home tho I think I’ll start doing 20 mins per day soon. 

I also cool down and stretch after my runs and sometimes do strides after my MAF runs. 

Trail Run in the Mourne Mountains
Trail Run in the Mourne Mountains

What was your training volume in hours or mileage like? How did a typical training week look like for you?

My training volume for my 2019 races started with around 30 miles per week at the beginning and I increased this to 60-70 miles per week after about 4 months. 

My training week is usually Monday recovery run, Tuesday speed work intervals, Wednesday MAF run or Trail (10mile) Run, Thursday MAF run, Friday MAF run. Depending on how I feel Saturday will be a Rest Day or light run then Sunday is my Long Run. I normally do this without HR monitor and run to feel about a min per mile slower than sub 3 marathon pace. 

What was your race strategy going into the Omagh 1/2 marathon? 

My race strategy for my recent PR half marathon was to run at 6:30 to 6:40 pace throughout, however that plan went out the window as my first mile was 5:57 and mile 2 a bit hilly was 6:17. Although this was much faster than I planned I felt very comfortable and decided to stick with this pace. Thankfully I was able to hold this pace throughout averaging a 6:07 pace and never faded crossing the line at 5:51 pace, see Strava of the race. This has given me a lot of confidence for the Belfast marathon on 5th of May for a sub 3hr.

Finish Line at Omagh Half Marathon
Finish Line at Omagh Half Marathon 

What did you eat and drink the night before your race and on race morning? 

The night before my race I made sure I was well hydrated. I had chicken with basmati rice to eat. For my breakfast race morning I had an omelette with cheese and an energy bar that I make myself. Organic oats peanut butter (salt and palm oil free), cranberries, sugar free gluten free dark choc chips and organic honey. I had 1 bar and the omelette 3 hrs before my race. I stopped hydrating about an hour before my race.

Do you have any recommendations to other runners looking to improve, to become stronger, healthier, happier and faster athletes? 

I believe just doing a lot of MAF runs in your training reduces the risk of injury. I’ve been able to train 5 to 6 days a week now for the past 5 months now with no issues. This has allowed me to increase my volume for the week without any complications. I also work 5 days per week and we have 4 children but always have plenty of energy. 

Which other races are on your horizon and bucket list to run?

My races coming up are:

  • 5th May – Belfast Marathon
  • 19th May – Portadown Marathon
  • 22nd June – Energia 24 (24hr endurance run where I hope to do 100+ miles)
  • 28th September- Causeway Coast Marathon 
  • 19th October- Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail Race 22 miles with 12000ft elev.

Bucket List: to do all the Major Marathons and one day get a chance to run the UTMB Mont Blanc.

Me and my friend David who told me about MAF this was at the DUNE half marathon in February 2018
Me and my friend David who told me about MAF this was at the DUNE half marathon in February 2018

Any closing comments?

To become a stronger healthier faster and happier runner I definitely recommend the MAF Method. Also for anyone looking to shed weight I do recommend keto but only for MAF training. When it comes to adding speed work and increasing pace on the long run I feel carbohydrates are essential.  

I would say in closing the same thing Jonathon Walton said at the start of his interview and that is to be Patient. Patience is key to this and believe and keep going and you will improve. I hope this helps people out there looking to make a better version of themselves by improving their health and fitness. 

Gareth is an active member of the Extramilest Facebook group. You can find him on Strava and Facebook

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