I went out to Portugal in March for a marathon training camp, excited knowing that I was in great shape and would come back in even better nick. It was a great 10 days, running with some really good athletes. All of us were out there expecting to come back and run our respective spring marathons. I had the London Marathon in my sights. And a sub 2hr 30m finish – something I have been chasing for a while now. Although mentally I would have had to dig deep, I feel that I had it in me to break the sub 2hr 30 mark. Towards the end of the camp we found out that the London Marathon, as with most things in 2020, was to be canned.
Returning home, it was time to show some ‘bouncebackability’ despite the disappointment. My attitude has been to assume that I would have performed at the London Marathon in April at the standards I set myself and now it’s time to push on again. At 34 years of age, I haven’t got time to waste!
The more you put in, the more you get out. It seems obvious but to know this is not the same as to apply it. Gladwell in his book Outlier stated that with 10,000 hours of practice, you can master anything. I love the idea that we are capable of anything if we apply ourselves to those levels.
With lockdown has come more time at home to focus on my running with fewer distractions. I’m consistently running 60+ miles a week and am doing weights and core sessions four times a week – something I definitely would not have had time for had we not been in lockdown. And the results have followed. Forward on 10 weeks since Portugal and I’ve run four time trials and returned with three PBs!
Two weeks back from Portugal and I ran in the 5km National Virtual Road Relay Championships (virtual racing is for the foreseeable future!). 16 minutes and 29 seconds – that was six seconds off a PB that was set almost four years ago! A few weeks later and I had another nibble at it – down to 16 minutes 23 seconds! I know I’ve got the ability to get it under 16 minutes in the next few months. And if I can run shorter distances like 5km and 10km faster, this will make a huge difference over a marathon distance.
I also ran a 3km time trial, taking off four seconds from a PB I set on the track last summer – PB now down to 9 minutes 35 seconds. Had I not badly planned the route, I wouldn’t have sprinted up a hill for the last 500m! I’ve got another crack at the 3km distance this Saturday. The aim is to get this time much closer to 9 minutes.
Finally, I had a go at the 10km. I was looking forward to this one – my PB of 33 minutes and 50 seconds has stood since 2017. Unfortunately, I had a run-in with an exercise step that I managed to drop on my foot – the irony! Badly bruised, I still managed to run the time trial in 34 minutes and 53 seconds but not the fourth PB that I was looking for. Nevermind, I’ll have another pop at it before the end of lockdown.
So what’s the master plan, what with the racing calendar absolutely decimated by COVID-19? I was due to run in the 2020 Berlin Marathon which has most likely been postponed (not cancelled) but without a new date announced. I’ll start marathon training again towards the end of July after a little break and the hope is to be in 10km shape when I do. Even if I don’t get to race at the end of it, I’ll go through the motions and complete the marathon cycle, hopefully with evidence that I’ve pushed on again!
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Love the ’80s sweatband! Are the virtual runs indoors on a treadmill, or all outdoors?
It’s a bit OTT isn’t it? These are all outdoors runs. So you submit your times on Strava when you’re doing a virtual race. Or just do a time trial on your own. Surprisingly motivating!
Brilliant , Marcus. I admire your reaction to the cancellation or postponement of your target races for 2020. Phil