Top marathon tips from blogger Bangs and a Bun

Muireann – more commonly known as Bangs and a Bun, is a blogger extraordinaire, social media consultant and public speaker. Bangs can be relied upon to speak – and occasionally rap, her mind about whatever is irking or exciting her at any given moment! (Check out her blog to see what I'm talking about)

In addition to all this, she is also a keen runner and I was lucky enough to be chosen to be part of her Team Bangs on the Run 2 team. We ran the Run To The Beat half marathon together in September 2011, and this week she is leading her third team to victory in the Berlin Half Marathon.

I caught up with her – in between runs, to get her Top Marathon Tips…

Name: Muireann Carey-Campbell or Bangs
Age: 30
Home: East London
Career: Blogger, Public Speaker, Consultant

How did you get into running? I was approached by a PR and asked if I'd like to run a half marathon and blog about it. I agreed, mistakenly thinking I was really fit as I'd been boxing for a couple of months. (Totally forgot that I hadn't actually run since an egg and spoon race at primary school). I had no idea about training plans or devices that tell you how far you go etc, I just put my trainers on and went.

Can you tell us the races you’ve run, and those that you have coming up?
Royal Parks half marathon twice
Paris Half Marathon twice
Run to the Beat half marathon
San Francisco Women's Marathon
Movember 10K

I'm doing the Berlin half marathon this weekend, and I've entered the ballot for the New York Marathon too!

Can you tell us a bit about your marathon experience? I absolutely loved my marathon experience. I'd never been to San Francisco before so I think all the sightseeing I was doing on the route totally kept my mind off the distance. I was just having a blast!

I had a couple of tough miles between miles 21-23, but other than that, I was happy as Larry the whole way round.

It was my first marathon and I'd found the training really tough so I think I was just so relieved to be finally doing the race that I just really enjoyed myself. The route was wicked the crowds were great and I sprinted the last 800m like I was trying out for the Olympics or something - it was just awesome.

Who is your marathon inspiration? When I was training for the marathon I watched a video of Joan Benoit, winner of the first Women's Olympic Marathon in 1984 a lot. It really inspired me 'cause she overcame such odds to be there.

She qualified for the Olympic team two weeks after having knee surgery so no one really thought she'd be a threat, but on the day, she took the lead two miles in and literally left everyone for dust. It's incredible to watch. Coincidentally, Joan Benoit was at the start line at the San Francisco marathon giving a speech and wishing everyone good luck. I totally geeked out!

I also watch the Duel in the Sun video quite often which is of the legendary Boston Marathon where Alberto Salazar beat Dick Beardsley - the footage is just amazing. I think it's one of the best bits of race footage out there and it really gets me pumped up.

What is your marathon mantra? Pain is temporary (It's really important to remember this!)

Can you name your top three tracks on your marathon playlist?

Jamie XX - Far Nearer

More Fire Crew - Oi Who's that More Fire Crew

Joe Esposito - You're The Best Around (from the Karate Kid soundtrack)

What are your favourite – and least favourite aspects of training? I really enjoy the structure of a training plan and enjoy being regimented about sticking to it. That said, I do reach a point in every training cycle where I just think 'I can't be arsed!' and I really have to push myself through the last few weeks.

What do you tell yourself to beat the wall? If it's a half marathon, I tell myself this is a maximum two hours of my life (hopefully less!) So how good can I be in two hours? What could I achieve if I just blocked out the pain and pushed it for these two hours? Two hours over the course of a lifetime is nothing.

I use a lot of distraction and visualisation techniques too. Basically just I just try to focus on getting my mind off the immediate pain. Think happy thoughts!

What is your marathon top training tip? The foam roller! I try to stretch with this after each run and I think you just can't underestimate the power of a good stretching routine.

Whereabouts do you run? Do you prefer running in or outdoors? I much prefer to run outdoors. I can't stand the boredom of a treadmill. I'm a real big city girl and I love the urban jungle so I love to see different buildings and people and graffiti on my runs. I run around my area in East London a lot and of course, having the Olympic stadium as a backdrop is great motivation. If I'm doing longer runs, I'll sometimes get the train to the other side of London and run home, just to switch up the route.

How often do you run? 3-4 times a week

Do you vary your training between mileage and speed? Definitely. I don't think you see improvement if you just stick to the same session each time. I usually do a tempo run, a steady run, a track session and a long run in the week. I also try to cross train, usually boxing and pilates when I can.

What has been your most memorable run to date? Probably my second ever run. It was a Park Run 5K one Saturday morning in Leeds. I'd done it the week before, which was my first run and was terrible. I literally couldn't run for 30 seconds. I had to walk most of it, I was being overtaken by pensioners, it was a pretty mortifying experience. I went back the next week and I remember saying to myself at the start line 'I'm gonna run this whole thing and I'm not gonna stop till I cross the finish line'. I just repeated that to myself like a mantra the whole way around and no matter how much it hurt, no matter how much I wanted to, I didn't stop. I think that's when I realised that running for me is about 90% mental.

It was also a real ‘light bulb’ moment for me. It made me think 'what if there are other areas in my life where I've stopped when I really could've kept going?' From that day, I decided to approach every aspect of my life like a run. I'm just not gonna stop till I finish and I'm gonna push through when the going gets tough. I've lived that way ever since. That run literally changed my life.

Do you prefer running alone or with a partner? I do love solo running. I find my best long runs are done alone, but I do enjoy running with others on shorter runs.

Has running had an impact on your life? Most definitely. It's had a massive impact on how I approach every aspect of my life. I think I'm a calmer, happier person as a result of running too.

Physically, I'm much fitter and stronger than I used to be, and I think of my body in a totally different way. I am now a fully-fledged card carrying member of the ‘church of running’ and am one of those annoying people who will preach its benefits to whoever will listen.

We listen! And we love what Bangs is doing.

To see in to Bangs' world visit her blog www.bangsandabun.com

And don't forget to check in to www.spikesandheels.com to see what's hot in the world or running, and heels.

Thanks Bangs. I'll be chasing your tail in Berlin this Sunday. run like 'elle. x