The Godfather of running: Steve Edwards sets new World RecordThe World Record breaking ‘Godfather’ of marathon running, Steve Edwards, recently made history by becoming the first person in the World to run 500 sub 3 hours 30 minutes marathons. Setting the World record on Sunday 11th November 2012 at the Fox 40 Milton Keynes Marathon, the Bourton Roadrunners club member and 100 Marathon Club member finished in 3 hours 14 minutes, and just ahead of his 50th birthday. Despite vowing ‘never again’ after running his first marathon in Coventry in 1981 at the age of 18 years, Steve has gone on to run 577 marathons – setting five World records in the process, including becoming the then youngest British man to run 100 marathons at the age of 28. With finish times ranging from a personal best time of 2 hours 51 minutes to 3 hours 54 minutes, Steve actually passed the 500 marathon landmark in April 2010, setting a world record for running 500 marathons in the fastest average finish time of 3 hours 18 minutes. Speaking to Men’s Running, Steve explained that while he has run 500 marathons under the elusive 3:30 mark, he also tries to finish as many as possible under 3:15 and feels as fit as ever after smashing his existing record. Steve credits his marathon success to the mental strength he has developed over the years, “I think that you are a lot stronger mentally when you are an older runner as you have more experience”, he says while also admitting he made a lot of mistakes when he trained for his first marathon. “It was during the early eighties running boom that I saw a poster for the Coventry Marathon, which was taking place in six weeks time and thought I quite fancy the challenge and wouldn’t mind having a go at that.” Steve proceeded to train by running 5 miles every night round the running track at his old school, which was the furthest distance he ran in training. “I didn’t even know you had to do a long run, or anything about nutrition or carb loading. I didn’t even know you had to wear running shoes – I wore an old pair of football trainers! “Up to 15 miles I was thinking what’s all the fuss about, but then a mile or two later when I couldn’t move my legs, I began to realise it’s not an easy event at all.” Even today, Steve says that the 18-21 miles section of the marathon is tough, but that he has tried to make that his strength by pacing himself and by ensuring he has fuel in the tank. Since that first marathon in 1981, Steve has gone on to run a marathon at least every 15 days and says he has been quite lucky not to suffer greatly from injuries. In fact, Steve says he has only picked up one serious injury – a stress fracture in his ankle in 2010 when he upped his mileage to meet his 500 marathon target. Most of Steve’s injuries have come in recent years, but still haven’t led to him having to miss more than a couple of weeks of training and the occasional race. “I guess I have pushed it up to the point where that balance is where you are training hard to the point of injury and then you go over that tipping point and pay the price", says Steve. Steve’s current training schedule involves an 8 mile cycle to work, a 6 mile run at lunchtime, an 8 mile cycle home and then a core or weights workout in the evening. He uses his weekends for either running a marathon or for a long training run of around 20 miles. Friday is his day of rest and somehow he manages to fit his work and family life around running! Turning 50 at the end of the month, Steve says his next goal is to see if he can start winning prizes as a veteran 50 as well as continuing to maintain his fitness. “At the end of the day, running is for me a way of life and health and fitness permitting hoping to enjoy running for as long as I possibly can.” And how did Steve celebrate his new World record? By running the Luton Marathon the following weekend of course!
Steve’s top tips for marathon success:
Avoid going off too fast if you want to finish strong and maintain a decent pace in the final tough miles.
Ensuring you are properly fuelled for your training runs and races is key. Good nutrition is also vital for recovery.
Work your core
Work on your core strength to ensure good running posture is maintained later in the marathon.
Hit the pool
When suffering from a stress fracture in 2010, Steve took up aqua jogging to maintain his fitness. Aqua jogging is low impact and surprisingly hard work, says Steve.
Incorporate active stretching as part of your warm-up and lots of static stretching afterwards to prevent injuries and improve flexibility.
Read Steve's review of the Fox 40 Milton Keynes Marathon here.
Reduce the miles
Steve advises taking a short break each year from training to allow the body time to recover from the strain of hard running and racing.