Andrew Lawrence has run for Morpeth Harriers for more than 14 years. This winter he was plagued with injury, so he decided to run the London Marathon dressed as a banana. He got around in 02:47:41 and became the fastest runner to complete a marathon dressed as a fruit, getting into the Guinness Book of Records in the process (he beat the previous record by a full 11 minutes if you’re interested…). Similarly to Andy Greenleaf, who we interviewed recently after his sub 02:30 marathon run, Andrew has a full time job in the City, he’s a VP at Barclays' corporate bank. So, we asked him some questions about how he balances work with training and, don’t worry, we asked him about the banana run too.
Hi Andrew. What does your typical training week look like in the run up to, say, the London Marathon?
I generally do 80 to 100 miles a week. A fair bit of that is steady running to and from work but I’ll also do a marathon pace session and a track session too. Then I’ll try to do a race at the weekend, generally a parkrun.
Unfortunately this year I had a hamstring injury from about October and I only managed about 20 miles in 4 or 5 months over the winter! As I came back from injury I managed to get about 20-25 miles in about 3 weeks before the London Marathon and then upped it to 30-40 in the final two weeks before the race. I was planning to defer my entry but I just decided to do it as a bit of fun. I thought one of the costume records was probably up for grabs, I scanned the Guinness Book of Records and the banana just jumped out at me for some reason. So, I went for it.
Is there anything in your training routine that you swear by and never miss?
Funnily enough, I started doing some strength and conditioning training back in August and a few months later I was injured and out for 6 months! Now, I’m sure I’m just unlucky and strength and conditioning is no doubt important - and most people don’t do enough - but it made me think! I do swear by consistency though, it really is king. I compare it to compound interest - probably because I’m in banking - if you invest little and often from relatively early on, you’ll have built up a lot later on.
How did you balance training with work before you had a child, and how do you do that now? (Andrew’s son Callum was born four months ago).
In a funny sort of way, training is optimised for having kids anyway, you’re up early anyway! I tend to run to work and shower there, about 50 miles a week come from my commute. Then I still manage to bash out two evening sessions a week. I think that’s just about manageable with a child. I’m actually thinking of getting a decent buggy at some point and going for the 16:52 parkrun record with a buggy…
You used to train with Paul Hart, who also trained our very own Andy Blow. How does getting coaching like that help you improve?
I actually knew Andy from when I was doing a gap year teaching near where he lived. We ran together quite a bit and got some training from Paul, who was a fine coach. It was just devastating that he died so young. In general, I guess coaching just helps you with structuring your training. Its ultimately down to you, but you have a sounding board to decide what sessions to do. Having a discussion can be really useful. Ron Cooper is my current coach and it’s great to bounce ideas around with him.
What’s your best marathon time (when you're not wearing fancy dress)?
Nice. What’s the toughest race you’ve ever run and why?
I’d have to say the National at Parliament Hill - the home of cross country - When it’s muddy there, it’s like doing a Tough Mudder, it’s a real slog in those conditions. I think I did it in 2003 as a junior and it was tough.. Every race is tough, as you always push yourself but I think I had frostnip in my toes!
So, we had to ask, why a banana? Did you realise that bananas have more potassium in than sodium, so they're not great as a source of electrolytes for athletes?!
Haha, yes, very sorry about that. I’ve actually found out since the race that technically, a banana is a herb not a fruit, but don’t tell anyone…