Andy Eccles Ultra Runner

We will be introducing some of the coaches and senior members of the club over the next weeks. There will be some detail on their running background and a few pointers along the way. First up is a piece from Andy Eccles, one of the Endurance group coaches.

I started running in the early nineties to help my fitness whilst playing football at a distinctly average level.

I ran my first marathon in April 1994 clocking a painful 3.35 in the Canberra marathon, I was hooked. I increased my running and ran my next marathon, the Sydney marathon in August 1994 and improved to 3.08.09. The following year I moved back to sunny Wigan and joined Wigan Phoenix with the ambition to break 3 hours for the marathon. I remember saying to one of the lads that if I ever break 3 hours I will pack in running on the spot and that will do for me. London 1996. 2.58.48 time to pack in.

I enjoyed my running with Phoenix but was not happy with some of the aspects of the training regime. I started to read up on things such as VO2max and LT (Lactate Threshold) and found that once you are reasonably fit VO2max does not increase much even when training really hard. LT put really really simply is the point at which my running intensity causes lactate to accumulate in my blood which will force me to slow. I learned that LT responds really well to fairly intense training from around 5km pace to 10 mile race pace, which is exactly what Dave prescribes on most of the Thursday sessions. The point is, we are all limited by our maximum speed, say the fastest we can run one mile once fully warmed up. If we can move our LT to a higher percentage of our max speed then our cruising speed for races will improve, add a shed load of miles, hill sessions, will power and faster marathons and ultras will follow that was my plan.
All my times gradually improved and as I approached 40 my marathon was down to 2.40, however all my PBs came at 40 and over when I believe my LT was at its highest and I was able to cruise nearest to my max speed (VO2max). This point is proved by the fact that most of the runners around me in the marathons and ultras had 10km PBs much faster than mine.

In my view never back off on your speed work, to run a good marathon you need to be close to your best for 5 and 10km. If your speed sessions start to suffer back off on your mileage until you are able to handle your sessions then slowly increase your miles again. In my view garbage mileage is pointless you trudge round on a Wednesday for a horrible 10/12 miles then cannot do a good session Thursday, better to have done an easy 5 or rested altogether.

Some of my best races as a vet are:

Copenhagen Marathon 2001. 2.39.41. 1st vet 40. 15th overall 1.17.55 half marathon on route.

April 2002 Don Valley 6 hour track race. Won with distance 48.37 miles. June 2002

Dartmoor Discovery ultra 32.5 mile 4th overall 1st vet 3.58.26. March 2003

Madrid International 100km road race 9th place 7hrs 51.34.

June 2003 Lake Vyrnwy marathon 2nd 2.42.29.

July 2003 represented England in the 100km home international Anglo Celtic Plate finishing 4th in 7hrs 43.37.

Andy locked in battle with the lead Scottish runner at the 70k mark, Andy would later pull away at 95k to clinch 4th place behind three English team mates.


Feb 2004 Draycote 35 mile road race 3rd 3.49.18. 1st vet.

April 2004 Speyside 50km trail 2nd 3.24.11 vet 40 record.

May 2004 Marlborough Downs Challenge 33 miles won 4.08.34 course record.

March 2005 Barry 40 mile track race 161 laps 3rd 4.36.13.

PBs: 5km 17.14. 10km 34.11. 10mile 56.09. Half marathon 1.16.02. Marathon 2.39.41. 50km 3.20.

Hope I’ve not waffled on too much.



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