Nathan Pask and Dwynwen Lewis aren’t your ordinary property bods. Nathan, a director at Bilfinger GVA by day, is a long-distance and triathlon enthusiast with races including the European Triathlon Championships in Kitzbuhel under his belt. At last year’s LandAid 10K he registered a blistering time of 36:47 to finish fifth. He’s on top form this year too, having won the veteran’s race at the North London Half Marathon in March. He’s also two-time champion of the gruelling 877-stair run up the Broadgate Tower which forms part of LandAid’s London TowerAthlon event.
Dwynwen is a senior associate in Trowers and Hamlins’ Real Estate department and a middle distance triathlete. With an impressive list of accolades that includes being the first non-pro woman to cross the finish line at the Dublin Half Ironman in 2015 and coming second overall at the Alpe D'Huez Triathlon in 2014, it’s no wonder she’s the firm favourite for this year’s LandAid 10K. Having won the event in both 2014 and 2015, Dwynwen is going for her third consecutive title at this year’s race.
Ahead of the event on 9 June, Nathan and Dwynwen tell LandAid about lunchtime running clubs, blisters and Welsh dragon socks.
At last year’s 10K you both clocked seriously fast times. What tips would you give a runner looking to smash their PB?
Nathan: It’s a simple formula for me. Train well, eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep. It’s all about consistency. Oh, and on the day itself, don’t set off too quickly.
Dwynwen: Consistency is key for me too. My old coaches used to preach this in training and I agree that it's certainly the secret to improving. You don't need to spend hours running; two to four runs per week is plenty but it's important to ensure that those runs are maintained (except in cases of illness or injury). Those consistent sessions will all be 'in the bank' and will help push you, mentally and physically, on race day. Think of your hardest session when standing on the start line and remind yourself that this race is why you put yourself through such torture!
All that training sounds like hard work! What keeps you motivated?
Dwynwen: I find that I am most sharp and alert after a run so I am motivated every morning to get it done knowing that the session will be a big tick in the box and will set me up well for the day ahead. If I train in the evening, I find that it melts away any stress so an interval session along the Thames en route to the train station is my favourite run after a long day in the office.
Nathan: I find it motivational to train with other people. We have a group at Bilfinger GVA that have started to do a lunchtime run on the river to prepare for the race. On the day itself I just try and stay relaxed and keep good running form.
Speaking of race day, do you have any superstitions or rituals you go through before you run?
Dywnwen: I always wear the same socks (covered in miniature Welsh dragons) as I wore when I qualified for a World Championship triathlon race in 2013 (they have been washed since!). That, and a good warm up incorporating some strides and 3x 10 second sprints to get the fast twitch fibres going.
Nathan: I’m not really one for superstitions but I do believe in a good warm up before I run to get my heart rate going. The LandAid 10K warm up was really good last year.
Dywnwen: Since last year’s race I now have a new ritual: I will always race in trainers that are at least 3 months’ old. Last year, I wore trainers that were only a few weeks' old (albeit being my usual make/model). I could feel something "squidgy" beneath my foot during the race but ran through the pain knowing that I was in the lead and my colleagues at Trowers and Hamlins would never let me live it down had I "stopped for a blister". I hobbled to the podium but the next morning ended up in A&E for 5 hours as the blister spanned over 70% of the ball of my foot and I couldn’t walk!
Ouch, that sounds painful! And what about breakfast? What food keeps you fuelled?
Nathan: Assuming its non-alcoholic, I’m not sure breakfast on race day will make any difference to your time. There is no need to ‘carb-load’ for a 10K, just eat normally and drink plenty of water.
Dwynwen: For me, it’s a bowl of porridge every day of the week, including race day. It's important not to over eat for a 10km; you really don't need too many carbohydrates as it will only make you feel heavy and sluggish. The LandAid run has thus far always turned out to be a warm day so sipping water (perhaps with some electrolytes) throughout the day is really important.
We’re partial to a bowl of porridge too (and the odd croissant)! Lastly, what are most looking forward to at the LandAid 10K?
Dwynwen: The change of venue for 2016 is exciting (although hopefully it will be just as twisty as last year so that we can keep an eye on the opposition whilst going around the bends!) but most of all the fab atmosphere and social in the park afterwards. Of all races I do throughout the year, this is definitely the best in terms of the post-race feel good factor with the entertainment and drinks which everyone enjoys in the sunshine. I cannot wait. See you then!
We can confirm the race course has just as many hairpin bends as last year! Thanks for your top tips Nathan and Dwynwen – see you on the start line.
Places are still available for the LandAid 10K sponsored by Bilfinger GVA on 9 June at Clapham Common. Book your spot for just £30 at www.landaid.org/10K. And whether you're a 10K novice or an expert like Nathan and Dwynwen, we'll be there for you every step of the way.