Most people run one marathon and tick it off their bucket list forever, but not Eddie Latham. 6 races later, he’s now got a sub-3-hour PB, and has qualified for the elusive Boston Marathon, all whilst also running a very successful business. We caught up with Eddie in the lead up to the London Marathon, to hear more about his training and how he fuels himself through those endless miles on a vegan diet…
Has being active always been a big part of your life?
I used to play a lot of rugby a as teenager, it was a huge part of my life. I never saw myself as a runner, I was more of an “impact” rugby player. I’m 34 now, and between giving up rugby in my late teens and around 5 years ago I managed a total of about 3 hours 5 aside footy in 10 years.
When and how did you first get into running & specifically running marathons?
I’ve run 6 marathons. The first was around 5 years ago, Brighton. I didn’t train much, just a few runs leading up to the race. It was torture and put me off running for a few years. Then two years ago I thought I’d give it another try – I had unfinished business with it. Since then I’ve not been able to stop running (for at least 10 months of the year when work’s not too busy). I work away a lot all over the world and have an irregular job, running’s great because you can do it anywhere. It’s a great way to get out the office or meetings and explore new places.
You recently ran the Tokyo Marathon –it would be great to hear a little bit about how this went & what the experience was like?
Japan felt as far away from home as you could be, it’s just so different. I only got there two days before the race and had really bad jetlag. The night before the race I didn’t sleep at all. I ran NY marathon in November and that day I was on for my first sub 3-hour time until mile 22 when I got terrible cramp – I finished that in 3:05 in the end. After NY I stopped running until Jan, I had too much on with work. In early Jan I started back again hitting the miles. I had 8 weeks to train for Tokyo, or 2 weeks finding my legs again, 4 weeks big training, then a two weeks taper. I didn’t think it would be enough for a PB.
I set out on the morning of Tokyo thinking “just get around, 3:15 is the best you can hope for. Then at London you’ll run sub 3”. It was raining hard all the way to the start line. That lack of pressure helped me a lot. I ran the first 5 miles really relaxed, I felt strong and my heartrate was low and stable – another sign I was relaxed. Approaching half way, I felt good, I even had time to stop to go to the toilet – another marathon first for me. It continued to rain. I got to 20 miles and I said to myself “you have time in the bank to have a drama and still do sub 3 hours. Just relax and when the inevitable drama happens just deal with it then carry on”. Every mile that went past my pace stayed steady, I was still so relaxed.
The drama never came, no cramp, and aches, no negative thoughts, I just ran with my head and legs. At around 400m from the end, I started my sprint finish, clearly that was too soon, I’m not superman so gave up after 50m. 2nd sprint attempt at 200m to go was much more successful. The crowd was going crazy and that really spurred me on, I crossed the line in 2:57 – a new PB. People always say, “when you cross the line of a marathon it’s the best feeling”, usually I just feel pain – this time I was over the moon. Beating 3 is something I’ve worked on 6 days a week for a long time, 1000s of miles. I’ve never classed myself as a runner, but I would like to think anything is possible if you put your mind to it – to achieve what most people (including myself) would have said was unlikely at best was an amazing feeling.
How do you maximise your time to fit in all those training miles whilst also running a business? What does your usual training schedule look like?
I run 6 days a week. Most weeks 50 miles is the aim. I break it up with a couple of fast runs of 6-8 miles. A 10-12-mile run, and a long run of 15-20 miles. Then one short run of the other day, usually 4 miles recovery run the day after my long run. My job is quite demanding both mentally and time-wise. I’m not sure if the added pressure I put on myself running helps or makes it worse, but both areas of my life are going in the right direction and I’m hitting the targets I’ve set out for both, so I carry on with it.
I usually run late at night – I have to put work first, running a business I feel like I don’t only have the responsibility of my own career but I also a duty to the people who work for the company. I can only relax and focus on running after I feel like I’ve done my day job. Running at night can be quite lonely but it’s the only time I get away from work and emails – even then I often send emails while running, or even the odd important phone call (wow that sounds really sad now I’m writing it – I don’t need to be on call all the time, I just hate having a job left undone so I try and sort anything that comes up right away).
How much of a role does nutrition play in aiding your training & performance?
5 years ago, when I ran my first marathon, I was close to 120kg. Since I stopped playing rugby I’ve always battled with my weight. I never used to think about what I ate. I think if you eat a normal diet (non-vegan) then it's easy to assume you’re getting a well-balanced diet – for me, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve been vegan been almost 2 years now; it has quite literally changed my life. I decided to make a permanent change to my diet, not go on another fad diet.
Now I look at the nutritional values in every meal, I always try to make it balanced – and yes, I always get my protein, something I would have assumed I was getting before being vegan whilst tucking into a massive bowl on tomato pasta with zero protein in it. Now I weigh 80kg, so I have quite literally lost a third of my body weight. I have to work on my diet every day, it takes work but it’s worth it. I used to live to eat, now I eat to live. The most amazing change is the extra time I have, meals, eating out, cooking used to be a massive part of my life – now I eat when I’m hungry. I eat a lot of raw food and it’s very liberating having freedom from something I felt had a massive hold over me for most, if not all my life.
What’s your top tip for fuelling a highly demanding training schedule?
Eat little an often. You can’t run after a big meal. You shouldn’t eat big meals. I never know what’s going to happen with my day and I have to fit in running whenever I can. I can only do that if I’m run ready and not bloated.
What’s your go-to pre-&/or post-run meal for longer training runs?
I used to think I needed a good 3 hours after eating before I could run, but that was mainly because I was eating too much and the wrong food. Drink a lot of water, all the time. I drink about 10 liters of water a day, that helps everything! I never carb load for training runs. I save all those types of things for races – if you do that it gives you a physical and mental boost. If you run 7 min miles in your long training run and you didn’t have breakfast, then imagine how easy it would be to run 6:30 miles with the correct prep on race day.
Make sure you eat a lot of protein after all runs, it helps the post-run pains. By that, I don’t mean eat 100g of protein right after a run. I simply try and eat 20-30g of protein every two hours for 2 or 3 times after each run. That can be a meal, a shake or a pack of nuts. Once you get in a routine it’s easy.
Finally, what’s your best advice for someone who wants to get into long distance running & is thinking about signing up for their first marathon?
I still can't run for a bus. Everyone is a natural runner. If you can walk you can run, it's the same thing - you just need to build up to it. I hate running too, I do it because I hate it so much that it's an achievement every time I go out and run, set a new PB or have a bad run on a day that I would have rather stayed in bed all day.