Top marathon tips from poet Charlie Dark

I remember chatting to a friend of mine a few years ago, who was chastising me about my inactivity and snubbing of sport. There was nothing remarkable about this meeting, other than the fact that he told me he was a member of a running club called Run Dem Crew. This conversation was a good few years ago and long before I participated in, or was remotely interested in any kind of sport, but I remember thinking what an amazing name it was, and how I wished I’d thought of it.

A couple of years later I was at the new Louis Vuitton store launch, where there was a cluster of trendy looking types regaling stories about illustrations in a great tome-like book by artist Chris Offili. They held a captivated audience, of which I was one. I’m ashamed to admit – that in addition to snubbing sport, I had an equally invalid snobbery of poetry, until I heard this.

I remember seeing my friend that evening, and telling her about this random encounter with poetry by a guy called Charlie Dark. Sure enough, she knew him – and for the following year or so the memorable names Charlie Dark and Run Dem Crew have continued to pop-up in conversation.

To explain – Charlie Dark is a part-time poet, part-time producer, part-time runner, part-time DJ and full-time inspiration (to me and many others). He is the founder of Run Dem Crew, a free London based running club who pound the city’s streets during nightfall, and whose members comprise some of London’s most creative.

So, it is with great pleasure that I am finally able to put a face to the name, and ask this inspiring man a few questions about his marathon experience.

Name: Charlie Dark
Age: 40
Home: London
Career: DJ, writer, creative consultant

How did you get into running? I was commissioned to write a one man show and needed to get in shape for the role but couldn't afford a gym membership so the only renaming options were running or football. My friends are too disorganised to play football on a regular basis so running it was.

Is this your first marathon? No, this is my third full marathon. I ran both Paris and Berlin 2010

Have you competed in other running event before? I've done too many events to mention but previous races include :
Paris Half Marathon 2011
Great North Run 2010
British 10k
Run to The Beat
Bupa 10 K
Nike Human Race
The Beast
Etc etc

What made you decide to run the London Marathon 2011? It's on the list of the 5 major marathons I'd like to run around the world - London , Paris , Berlin, New York, Boston

Can you tell us your goal time? 3 hours 45 mins

Who is your marathon inspiration? Dick Beardsley, who came second in the Boston Marathon Duel in the Sun in 1982

What is your marathon mantra? Go Hard Or Go Home

What has been your trick to integrating your training into your already busy schedule? It's currently 16 weeks out of 52. Life can go on hold in order to achieve the desired time, and if you don't put the work in then race day becomes an uncomfortable experience. My friends, colleagues and family know that running is important to my happiness, so allow me the time.

What do you tell yourself to beat the wall? If ever you’ve hit it! I have my children's names tattooed on my wrist so when the wall arrives I focus on repeating their names to myself and soldiering on. Pain is temporary but the feeling of crossing the finish line lasts forever.

Can you name your top three tracks on your marathon playlist?
Ronnie Size and MC Dynamite back to 95 Jungle Mix tape
The best of Source Direct drum and bass mix tape

Whose World Is This - Nas

T.R.O.Y - Pete Rock and CL Smooth

Running Away - Roy Ayers

What is your pre race ritual? Sensible carb loading in the three days leading up to the race and a light pre race dinner of salmon and rice the night before. On race day I wake up early enough to begin emptying the bladder, don't over hydrate in the morning and eat one banana and a bagel with jam and butter. The key to a successful pre race ritual is routine and preparation so your body automatically knows what's in store.

What are your kit bag staples? Body glide, race belt, iPod, gels, headphones, warm jumper for post race.

What is your marathon top training tip? Train hard, Run Easy. If you skimp on training then you will suffer come race day. The marathon is a great metaphor for life as you reap what you sow. If you put the work in then race day should be an enjoyable and not painful experience. You can’t blag a marathon in the same way you can cruise through a half (marathon), as the road does not lie and if you are not ready for what lies beyond 18 miles then you will suffer.

Speed work and hill training are your best friends.

But the top tip is to be consistent with your pacing.

Download a pace band with your target finishing time and stick to the pace required. This takes the guess work out of race day and gives you something to focus on.

Thank you for your wise words Charlie, and hope to see you at Run Dem some day soon!

Run Dem Crew takes place every Tuesday at 7.30pm, departing from the Nike 1948 store
Nike 1948
Arch 477-479 Batemans Row
For more information please visit www.rundemcrew.com