Marathon Man Mike: Going the extra mile for WaterAid

Our head of policy and research Mike Keil will be pounding the streets of Edinburgh later this month in a marathon effort to raise money for a charity close to his and CCWater’s heart – WaterAid. Having clocked up more than 500 miles during training, the father-of-three explains why it’s been worth every ache and pain.

With less than two weeks to go until I make my marathon debut in Edinburgh (26 May), it felt like a good time to catch my breath and reflect on the punishing past five months of training. As the days and miles have raced by, I’ve learnt so many things about running – not least the fact it’s more complicated than I ever imagined. Let me share with you the top three things I’ve discovered.

Fuel: Until recently I had not got a clue about refuelling strategies. Apparently the body can only hold up to two hours of fuel and – once your tank is empty – you hit the wall! That is very nasty and can cause the best runners to grind to a snail’s pace. There is only one way to break through the wall and that’s to eat as you run. Unfortunately, nobody recommends any of my favourites (donuts, Tunnocks, custard slices) but I’m now clued up on which of the gels, that are loaded with carbohydrates, work for me.

Footwear: I thought trainers lasted until they fell apart. How wrong I was. They only have a running life of about 500 miles. Unfortunately, I found this out last week after my trainers had taken a 750- mile pummelling – sole destroying! It meant I had to hastily find exactly the same running shoes due to the close proximity of the big race day (just a different colour).

Fast: I previously had two running speeds: sprint (i.e. running for a train or to the kitchen at work when birthday cake is available) or plod (going for a run). It was eye opening to discover that there are lots of different ‘pace zones’ which you should employ throughout a training programme. I’m still not sure what speed intervals; reps; threshold; easy; hard; pace; actually refer to!

But what isn’t complicated is my decision to run for WaterAid. It’s simply wrong that 1 in 9 people today on Earth don’t have access to safe, clean water. It’s also shocking that 1 in 3 adults and children live without a decent toilet. This has a massive impact on people’s lives: their education, health and prosperity all suffer. In the time taken to read this blog another child under the age of five will have died due to poor sanitation.

WaterAid aim to change this. The charity has made huge progress, but there’s still much more to do and we need to step up the pace. That’s why it was an easy choice to run for WaterAid – and it’s just as simple to show your support by sponsoring me here

All contributions, large or small, can make a difference and will spur me on to reach the finish line.

Thank you.