Beespoke Provider Spotlight – Michael B. (Personal Training)

Today marks the debut of the Beespoke Carer Spotlight Series, a collection of portraits and interviews with the men and women that make up Beespoke’s community of care providers. This is our opportunity to showcase the expertise that each Beespoke partner contributes to the whole – whether their experience stems from nannying or babysitting, dog walking or pet sitting, yoga, pilates, personal training, or housekeeping and cleaning.

With the London Marathon set for this Sunday (April 23rd , save the date), the first piece falls under the scope of Beespoke Fitness.

We caught up with Beespoke Fitness partner Michael B., founder and owner of Phoenix Fitness – a bespoke personal training and yoga duo based in South West London – to hear about the physical demands of training for a marathon. With two London Marathons and the legendary Marathon des Sables under his belt, Michael knows a thing or two about long-distance running…

Here’s what he shared with us, possibly setting the tone for a Beespoke London Marathon Team next year? It’s a bit too early for us to commit, but you never know…

Beespoke: Hi Mike. For many London Marathon runners, encouragements from the crowd as they cross over Tower Bridge are a highlight of the race. What makes the London edition special for you, and do you have a favourite bit along the way?

MB: Going through the East End with bands playing on pub balconies and terraces in the early/mid morning is a real boost. Tower Bridge is another booster stretch, and so is the Embankment phase. My top tip to runners this Sunday would be to write your name in bold large letters on the front, and on the back of your t-shirt – when complete strangers shout your name and urge you to ‘keep going!’… I promise, you wont feel the next 20 steps!

Beespoke: On the gruelling-to-rewarding scale, how does the Marathon des Sables stack up against the London Marathon, for instance?

MB: Well I didn’t have to have my big toenail drilled through in the London marathon! So based on that alone, London was less gruelling. The reward of getting across the finish line in both events is very special. It was probably a little more special at the London Marathon, as I had friends and family there to support and meet me.

Beespoke: Do clients ever come to you with the objective of running a marathon, asking for a training program to get fit and build up their miles? If so, is there a “Michael Berwick Way” to prep for a long-distance run?

MB: When a client who has never run 26 miles before decides to take on the marathon, I think it’s equally important that they find a running coach or a personal trainer that they like and trust, and with whom they can start their training journey.

If you’re young and fit, you may be able to crack on and crunch out the miles, but I would strongly recommend having at least a consultancy, and a program designed for you by a running coach/PT who understands your needs as an athlete, and is compatible with your goals for Marathon Day.

Personally, I like to deliver programs that include strength training, energy system training (tabata runs, tempo runs, hill runs), and of course, slow steady increases in long distance running. There will be times you’ll want a buddy or someone to consult because you’ll undoubtedly meet challenges along the way. So make sure you like, respect and trust your coach if you get one, and finish with the one you started with!

Beespoke: Prepping the body for long-distance is only half the battle. How, if at all, do you help clients prepare for the mental pressure of D-day?

MB: The mental pressure is usually only unbearable if you haven’t prepped properly for the race, if you haven’t undertaken the right training, or if you’re carrying an injury.

Keep your head up, relax, and smile – this sounds simple, but it’s too often forgotten. Why put yourself under more pressure than you need to! Here’s a tip for Race Day: keep to your own pace, and don’t be tempted to gas the start to get ahead of other runners.

Beespoke: What general advice would you give a complete beginner hoping to run a marathon as they start to train from scratch?

MB: Some general advice I’d give to a novice marathon runner would be to invest in the right equipment. The choice of the right trainers is imperative, and so is the selection of suitable clothing. You don’t want to not be training on training day because you don’t have the right kit. If you don’t have a PT or a running coach, find a runners forum or blog on which you can exchange ideas, and get knowledgeable.

As far as timeframe goes, I would say 6 months is a good length of time for marathon training. I would also include 5k, 10k as well as half marathon runs as part of the program, to give you some competitive conditioning.

Towards the end of the Program you want to be able to run 22 miles two weeks before Marathon Day, then to taper down your training while increasing the frequency of your rest days.

Beespoke: How important is it to “eat like an athlete” during training, and should a marathon diet cover the entire length of the training plan?

MB: Eating like an athlete will help you train like an athlete, and compete like an athlete. Proper nutrition will help with recovery and repair, and it should be included in your program right from the very start.

Beespoke: Is another Marathon des Sables or London Marathon on the cards for you anytime soon?

MB: No! I am now a Strength Coach and I combine my Strength Training knowledge with my Endurance running experience to increase runners’ performance. I also specialise in Weight loss and Body transformation Coaching.

Beespoke: Last but not least – any suggestions for traffic-free and scenic areas in or outside London that you enjoy running in?

MB: I live in Teddington, so I have the river nearby to run up and down. Bushy Park is a stride away, and Richmond Park is a cycle ride away!

Beespoke: Big thanks for your time and solid insights Mike! Any parting thoughts?

MB: Yes! Good luck to everyone running this Sunday! This week should be about swimming, gentle cycling and relaxing!