Cracknell on cross training

In terms of whether you are going for sub-3, 4 or 5 marathon, the one thing I would always say is never run on a niggle. Running is a weight-bearing exercise and it is only going to get worse. Don’t look at cross training as a day off running. Make sure it has some point to it. Just like you would have a structure to your running sessions, make sure the cross training sessions have a purpose. Make it about getting your heart-rate up or about lactic tolerance. I definitely wouldn’t run every day of the week. In training for a marathon, I would do 3 or 4 cross training sessions per week and run 4 or 5 times a week. I like to use a Wattbike for cross training and also the rowing machine – but I know not everyone has the capacity to use the rower like I might be able to. I don’t get too obsessed by mileage. I think you can get much more from a shorter threshold run, than an hour-and-a-half plod. Take time to make a plan every week, so you know what you want to get out of that week. We all live busy lives with work and family, so it’s really important to make the most of the limited time you have. Know what you want to get out of each and every session.

Cracknell on pacing

[When I ran a 2.43 marathon] I really didn’t know I was being that consistent. I think part of it came from my ability to really empty the tanks and get to the end with nothing left. Also, the ability to put trust in your training and having faith in your preparation. Set yourself challenging but achievable goals. You need to be strong in the first half, but if you feel like it is hard, you are probably in trouble. I really focus on the third quarter. Make sure you get there well-hydrated and well-fuelled. The best thing about mass participation events is that there are lots of things to focus on. There are people you have never met before who you can run with and work off. It’s really important to enjoy the day: 90% of the effort is getting there in shape. Make sure you enjoy the day to give you a chance to do well.

Cracknell on mental health

One of the things that makes running so brilliant is that it is chance to just switch off. I don’t run with my phone and it’s a chance to get away from the emails, the notifications and have some quiet time and think. It’s time that we don’t get for the rest of the day. I feel energised by the endorphins and it starts the day.

Cracknell on nutrition

I am lucky that I did an endurance sport to a high level and I have a good set of heart and lungs from that. I am 90 kilos, which obviously is quite big for a runner. You look at someone like Mo Farah and he’s more like 50 kilos. Those top guys are all legs and lungs and that’s what makes them so effective. I am really focused on getting below 90 kilos and suddenly, even when you are carrying just a stone’s less weight, in a weight-bearing sport, every bit helps. Don’t eat just before bedtime. But don’t change so much that you end up not enjoying your lifestyle. Running should be enjoyable – don’t live like a monk

Cracknell on bling

I’d be lying if I said I kept every medal. I don’t ever have any pictures around the house of the Olympics. That’s probably because I can still remember it – when I am old and forget it, I’ll get them out then to remind me. I do keep the medals of my best times though.


  • James Cracknell is part-owner and organiser for the Cheltenham Half Marathon (30 September), Great West Run (Exeter, 14 October) and Weston Super Half, Weston-Super-Mare, 24 March 2019). Entries are open for all three events now.