Last Sunday’s epic 42nd running of the London Marathon reminded me that I once ran the London Marathon with Gordon Ramsay. Yes “Hell’s kitchens/Kitchen Nightmares/The F word” Gordon Ramsay.
For any astonished non-believing sceptics reading this article who doubt Ramsay’s ability to run a marathon, allow me to startle you further. Gordon Ramsay has completed 3 Comrades marathons between the years 2000 and 2004. His best time is 10:31 (up). For good measure he is also an Iron Man medallist. In language spiced with profanities he rated the Comrades as the toughest @#$& race he has ever run.
I can report that his language is also a trifle rich towards the end of a marathon.
But he is a wonderfully entertaining running companion. Standing on the starting line of the London Marathon he courted the attention of the television cameras and teased an absent fellow well-known celebrity chef. “
“Where’s that porky little chef this morning? “He joked.
“I’ve been watching his television show recently and I’ve noticed he’s getting porkier and porkier with each passing week. He should be running today”
“By the way Bruce you’re so light and small I could carry you in my pocket”
While running we obviously discussed running and cooking “I ventured that I did much of the cooking at home and he asked me which family meals I most enjoyed preparing. And then he put me firmly in my place.
“It sounds like you’re a good family cook Bruce, but I’m a chef.
Indeed, and a chef sparkling with Michelin stars.
That set me thinking about ingredients and how when correctly and lovingly blended they create the perfect result. The parallels between running and cooking became glaringly obvious. Somewhere on our London Marathon journey from Blackheath Park to Buckingham Palace, Gordon revealed that one of the most difficult puddings to prepare is a’ lemon meringue pie’. He occasionally tortures his trainee chefs by insisting they prepare one. Apparently great skill and artistry are required to get the layers of sweet and tart lemon perfectly set and then to delicately top the pudding with fluffy meringue.
It could be argued that the same skill and artistry are required to deliver a runner perfectly prepared to the starting line of the Comrades marathon. The old, outdated approach used to be for runners to run as much distance as they could, to churn out the kilometres and hope for the best. We now understand that training should not be a boring and monotonous pile of leftover goulash (hundreds of tedious kilometres laboriously ground out without variety, from January to June) It should consist of several essential ingredients meticulously calculated and designed to get the best possible result from a runner.
The first ingredients are those long slow runs which most Comrades runners are busy completing this weekend and next. These runs develop the necessary strength, endurance and mental fortitude to better cope with Comrade’s 90 tortuous kilometres.
Next there are the bulk training miles, the day-to-day consistent,” up-early-in -the-morning “running that is the heart and soul of every training programme.
Speedwork adds the vital spice to the blend. It creates a faster runner and increases the runners’ ability to cruise at a faster speed.
Hill work blends in strength, body and anaerobic capacity to the mix. It makes climbing mighty Inchanga and Cowie’s Hill that much easier on race day.
Occasional time trials and short distance races allow runners to dip into their running schedule and have a quick taste test to see how things are progressing.
And then finally there is the often forgotten and neglected vital ingredient called “rest”. Like a great dish resting before being served the runner rests and allows the body to recover and to gather strength and prepare itself for the looming battle.
Understanding the importance and role of each these ingredients will always produce a great result.
I think Gordon Ramsay would agree.
This blog is published by kind permission of The Citizen Newspaper.
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