Marathon Training Q&A with fourfive team member, Michael Murray

Milly Gould
Milly Gould

Fourfive team member, Michael Murray and his brother James, will be venturing into uncharted territories as they tackle the London Marathon for the very first time, and all in the name of charity.

We caught up with the brothers to chat about their training, their fundraising efforts, and what motivates them to keep going.

Tell us about your fitness journey prior to making the decision to run a marathon.

Mike: I have always been an active person, but mostly on a more casual and a far less regimented basis. My passion for running started with my brother and some friends from university, where we took on the mighty Western Cape mountain trails. I have brought this with me all over the world, where running shoes always take priority in the luggage. 

Will this be your first marathon, and what led you to want to undertake the challenge?

Mike: Yes, I will be popping the cherry as they say. Being from a relatively tiny town in SA, I never dreamed of doing this. Marathons and beyond have always been challenges I’ve wanted to achieve. Now living in London, and running the streets every day feels like the norm, so why not try to make some good out of all the hard work seems like a great way to direct our efforts. 

James: I have completed a few marathons in the past, but certainly never in such an iconic race.Taking part in the London Marathon has been top of the running bucket list since completing my first marathon back in my university days. And when we found out that we could raise money for such a worthwhile cause at the same time, it was a no-brainer.

How has your training been? Have you suffered any injuries or setbacks along the way?

Mike: We’ve been following a pretty intense training schedule for the past few months. We’ve been running almost every day of the week. The schedule works mainly by targeting specific time on the feet, with incremental increases on the long runs on Sundays from 4 months out, followed by interval sessions and low tempo runs during the week. 

I have been struggling with an IT band strain, causing pain in my left knee, and putting me out for training for weeks/months at times. This was definitely a tough time during the lead up to the race as I was really struggling 2 months out, with the mental side being a big part of it from not knowing if I would be right for the race. I really struggled to keep away from runs which only perpetuated the injury. Finally George and I chatted, and he convinced me to join him for yoga for a 3 week period. The yoga along with my muscle rub, 1000mg Oil, and stretching  saw me return to full fitness really effectively. 

One of the more memorable yoga sessions includes an extremely hot yoga session with George, Dom and myself all slipping and sliding our way through the session. Safe to say our fellow classmates were rather distressed at the site!

What has been the most challenging aspect of your training so far?

James: I would say sticking to the training schedule has been a big challenge, with work, social and finding the time to rest all balancing on a really fine tightrope really. The exercise, although at times gruelling and painful, has 100% contributed in a huge way toward my mental health, and physiological well-being. I use it as a way to escape, think and clear my mind on a daily basis, which without I will certainly be a more stressed and anxious person. 

Who are you raising money for and why?

Mike: We are raising money for Amref Health Africa.  At fourfive we believe strongly in the ethos that everyone has the right to be active, which closely aligns with the objectives Amref aims to achieve. 

Amref Health Africa is Africa’s leading health NGO. Headquartered in Nairobi, they partner with communities in 35 countries to sustainably strengthen health systems and improve access to life-saving care. Their belief that health is a human right underpins everything they do.

Their projects focus on four key areas: Maternal & Child Health, Health Worker Training, Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights, and Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, all designed to help women and their communities access their right to health.

We are aiming to raise over £4,000 for the cause, and they’re hoping to boost that total even further with their marathon run. If you’d like to support them, you can do so by donating on their JustGiving page.

What are your tips for anyone training for a marathon for the first time?

Mike: I’m a first timer, so I have no clue yet, so I will let James take this one!

James: I would say stay calm and trust and listen to your body. As Mike mentioned, he wasted a month of valuable training by trying to run through his IT band injury. Treat your body with respect, give it the fuel, love and care it needs to complete this big undertaking. So if you are struggling, that’s by skipping a run, taking some Fourfive products and stretching, your body will definitely be better for it. 

I’m not saying you can sit and stretch and be able to run a marathon, because you can’t, but a balanced approach is what I would recommend.

What are your must-have products for training and recovery?

Mike: My stomach is about as strong as a paper bag on a rainy day, so my daily essentials without a doubt include the Biotic. I use the 1000mg oil every evening for a really solid sleep, and finally the muscle rubs on my sore muscles and knee throughout my injury struggles. 

James: I’m so pleased Mike put me on to Fourfive, because I can genuinely see a huge improvement in my ability to recover quicker from long runs from the sleep I get after using the 2000mg oil, and the muscle rub on my lower back, an area I have always suffered with pain. My daily essentials include the Vitamin D and Male Multi. after living in Durban for most of my adult life, I have struggled with the lack of sun over here in the UK. This has a knock effect on my immune system. These two really help me keep fighting and fighting, even on those dark, rainy, cold, (repeat cold), winter runs. 

How are you preparing for the mental challenge of such a long race?

Mike: Having James by my side to coach me through the process is massive. It gives me great confidence in my abilities, and ability to reach the targeted times we’ve set. I also work really hard on breaking up long runs in small achievable portions, which I only focus on later on in runs. Running with a partner, chatting and keeping positive and the mind busy is a huge help too. 

I have been using Headspace, a guided meditation app for the entire training period now. This hasn’t helped me directly to improve running, but certainly helps me maintain a mental balance and calm, which allows me to navigate days more 

Who would be your dream running partner?

Mike: Definitely George and Dom. Just for the spectacle I think.

James: Definitely Bruce Fordyce, a South African ultra marathon legend, winning the iconic Comrades marathon, which is 89km’s (55 miles) a record 9 times in a row. He is also from Durban, and by all accounts a really great guy. Wouldn’t be bad to go for a trot with him I reckon.