In LtW#26.2 – published in December 2020 – we profiled a runner called Liam McIntyre. Today we have an update from Liam about what happened to the hopes he had for his running career.
Let’s start with some background. Liam re-discovered running less than a decade ago at the encouragement of his wife, during a period in his life when mental health issues and unhealthy living were starting to take a toll. Despite his initial reluctance, Liam discovered that running was a great aid to a healthier and happier existence. He secured a place in the London marathon in 2017 and finished the race in 5h36m, with a renewed sense of self-worth and a foil for his depression and struggles with alcohol.
By the time we told Liam’s story in LtW#26.2, he had been well and truly bitten by the running bug. He’d thrown himself into training and in April 2018 ran the Liverpool marathon in 3h10m – a remarkable personal best time. But that was not the end of Liam’s ambitions. Later the same year Liam broke the 3 hour barrier at the Chester marathon.
Then in 2019, Liam ran the Manchester marathon in in April 2h46m30s and in the autumn ran the Berlin marathon in a scarcely believable 2h32m47s.
By the time Like the Wind interviewed Liam in Novermber 2020 for issue number 26.2, he had run a 70 minute half marathon and was looking towards some very exciting targets.
Like the Wind: Liam, it has been a while since we last spoke to you. Can you fill us in on what has happened since then. You ran a sub-2h30m marathon, right?
Liam McIntyre: Yes, I got a sub-2h30m time in the Manchester marathon in 2022. That was in April last year on my 42nd birthday. I’ve started being coached by Matt Rees, known as the Welsh Runner. Because after the interview with Like the Wind, I had three cracks at the marathon. In two of them I blew up. quite spectacularly.[The first was] when we came out of Covid. I did the Shepperdine Marathon, I was aiming for sort of 2h30m and I got 2h38m. I Just paced it wrong, really. And then I did the Cheshire Elite Marathon and I’m not sure what happened that day. I got 2h44m. I started too fast for my fitness, maybe. I went with a group that I thought I should be in. And it was obviously a step too far at the time. So that’s when I got a coach. There were obviously things that I needed to learn about building towards the marathon. I was peaking too early or just inexperienced.
LtW: Before you started working with your coach, what did your training look like?
LM: When I was self-coaching I was doing an hour of tempo on Tuesday and then six times one mile on a Thursday on a treadmill. That’s what got me to 2h32m I think. You know, I’d read somewhere, that you should be able to run tempo at a certain pace and you should be able to do six times one mile this pace. So that was my aim. Also I was doing a lot of miles. Lots of easy miles. You know, I think we can complicate training quite a lot. So it might sound weird to some people. But if I’m doing tempo on a Tuesday and intervals on a Thursday, every week, for 12 weeks or more leading up to a marathon, then I’m going to be in good shape. And now that I’m in my 40’s, I think the main thing is to keep the ball rolling. I find it hard when I get injured, or I try and do too much and then have setbacks. Because setbacks seem to set me back more than than if I was 30.
LtW: Tell me a bit more about the race in Manchester when you broke the 2h30m barrier.
LM: Well, I had an amazing build up. I ran a 70 minute half in February of that year, taking 20 seconds off my PB. And I didn’t have any interruption. I was just really ready. Ready for the day. Throughout January, February, March and April there were no setbacks – I just gradually built up my training. And then the day itself was perfect. My Mum and Dad took me to the race and we picked up a friend of mine, who I used to run cross country with when we were in school together. And that took my mind off the nerves a bit.
LtW: After racing the Manchester marathon, what came next?
LM: I thought I’d like to mix it up and sign up for some ultra marathons. I actually raced the London Marathon in October 2022, but I didn’t have a very good build up to it.I had quite a bad Achilles in the summer. So I signed up for the South Downs Way 50 miler the following April, which is a competitive race. I wanted to train for that as if it was a competitive marathon. Working with my coach, we mixed [the training] up and tried new things. My body struggled to adapt to the beginning. You know, training on hills, dealing with elevation and four hour long runs on a Sunday morning, getting up at four in the morning in the winter.
In the end I came second, which was beyond any expectations. I chased down a Spanish fella and overtook him with 15 miles to go. Honestly I was aiming for top 10 because I thought I’ve never ran 50 miles before.
LtW: So it feels as though despite your obvious success in the marathon, maybe you’re cut out to be an ultra marathoner. So there’s absolutely no possibility that anyone would ever pick you for a marathon team. Except … you’ve been selected to represent Wales in a marathon match-up against an England team.
LM: [I found out] the same week I competed in the Race to the Kings [ed: a 100km ultra marathon in the UK]. I missed the emails – they got sent to my junk mailbox. So I saw it on social media. A post said congratulations to the Welsh masters team for the marathon. And I read through the list and saw my name on it.
It’s a Welsh international vest. Wales versus England international masters at the Chester marathon in October. [I’m in the team] aged 35 to 44.
LtW: So what’s the plan between now and October? And what, if anything, and you going to do differently?
LM: I actually met with my coach last week and we discussed the plan. I was down to do a 100 miler in August. But I’ve cancelled that one, because it just wouldn’t work. I don’t tend to do intense work for an ultra. You don’t do as many top end intervals. So the last three weeks we’ve just started introducing some quicker workouts. Like the other day; eight times three minutes. On Friday, I did a marathon blend workout, which is tempo and intervals together just to get things ticking over. The big thing now is to be patient. The coach has to hold me back a bit because my tendency would be to do too much too soon. It’s such an honour to get a Welsh vest that the main thing in my head is getting there uninjured.
LtW: With making a return to the roads, what are going to be your go-to training shoes and what are you planning to race in?
LM: I’m very excited to be training and racing in New Balance. I’ve started running in the FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3. These are the ones that I’ll be racing in. And I’ve got the Fresh Foam X 1080v12 which are the shoes that I’ll be using for most of my training in the lead up. They’re both great.
LtW: We’re really excited to see how you get on with the race in October. And we’ll keep a close eye on what comes after that – more ultra marathons, we’d guess.
If you want to read Liam’s story in LtW#26.2, you can order a copy here.
And check out Liam’s social channels here.
For more on New Balance running footwear, here’s the link.