I’m so excited to share this motivational post with you today! Runner John talks about his experience of the London Marathon and why he went on to do another marathon just a week later. John’s years of running experience show in his blog and he shares some of his tips with us here. John will be joining Reset Sports Massage as a Soft Tissue Therapist in the near future. Look out for his clinics coming to Brackley soon!
Since October 2013 I have been a keen runner. I compete in 5k’s up to marathons.
Even before I ran, London marathon was something I wanted to do. The whole thing was so iconic and challenging.
I’ve entered the ballot every year since 2014, always being unsuccessful. Luckily my 3:01:40 time at Edinburgh marathon and also Abingdon marathon in 2017 (2:57:49) were good enough to get a good for age place. Once my place had been accepted I set my training plan to get to my best shape for London 2018.
Training for 2018
Before starting my marathon training I aimed to have bit of a rest. I’d had issues with my back and hip, which needed time to settle.
I began to build up my training slowly in December, steadily increasing the miles through January. But in mid-February the issues I had with my back and hip returned. I wasn’t able to walk properly, let alone run. Getting in and out the car was agony and I really struggled getting my socks on. It was very painful.
As there was no improvement by mid March, it was clear there was no chance of running London. I deferred my place until 2019. In mid-April I was able to run and began going to see Jennie in May. I hadn’t had a sports massage since moving up to Brackley in 2015, and it was noticeable how much it helped me. Sports Massage became a staple, at least once a month. Jennie worked on my quads, hip flexors and lower back. She immediately noticed that my Psoas on my right side was tight and on the left my TFL was the issue. I swear Jennie can read your mind as she always seemed to work on the areas I needed. The exercises she gave me began helping me to release tight areas, but also strengthen and activate weak areas.
Training for 2019
I was able to run through the summer but had to reduce the miles as I began to struggle again in September. I kept the mileage low and really focused on strength work at the gym. The hip adductor and abductor machines really helped me. Adductors and abductors are the muscles on the inner thigh and outside of the hip. They act like reins on the knee.
My shoulders began to hunch up when I got tired. So I added pulling exercises to help maintain good posture during my runs. I also spent time on the exercise bike and cross trainer to keep fitness levels up.
Going into January 2019 I increased the mileage, but yet again began struggling and had to stop running. Jennie really helped, I saw her regularly. Jennie put together exercises to help activate and strengthen my glutes. I also had more stretches and exercises to help with my tight hip flexors.
It was time to revaluate my goals for London. I wasn’t going to have the training to be able to achieve a time similar to Abingdon.
By the time I could really get back to the training I wanted, I had 7 weeks until London. I was very strict with myself, making sure I was doing Jennie’s exercises every day. I even stopped drinking any alcohol.
Training went well and I noticed the difference the exercises had on me. I was careful to keep the pace slower and work on my stamina. Speed work kept to a minimum, as I just wanted to make the big day. As I got closer to London I noticed that I had to keep slowing myself down as my speed was slowly returning.
A week or so before the marathon I made the decision to give it a go. I wanted to say I tried and I gave it everything. I only had a week of tapering but that worked well for me and I was feeling fine. My friends and family were the most amazing support, sending loads of good luck messages in the lead up. I was very emotional when I picked up my number at the Excel in London a few days before. It was amazing to be doing it.
The Day of London Marathon
I had a place on a local running clubs coach that took us to the start and we arrived at 8am.
The start went well. I was in the yellow start, so we were in front of the masses. I set out at 6.40 – 6.50 min mile pace. I felt good up to the 11th mile. When stopped for the toilet I saw the 3 hour pacer pass, which was a mental blow. Half way came and it was getting tough. I went through halfway at 1hour 31min. This was the fastest I ran for well over a year.
At mile 16 I was really struggling. I tried to get into a rhythm but I was exhausted, there was nothing left. I took time to walk a bit and at the water stops I concentrated on refueling. Mile 20 was my slowest mile by about 3 minutes. I can’t tell you what happened. I can’t remember it at all. Stopping at the fuel and water stations allowed me to find something to pick it up again and I managed to run to the finish. I did it in 3hours 22mins. I beat my realistic time of 3hours 30mins that I had told people was my target, but I was so disappointed. The marathon had beaten me, mentally and physically.
The Week After and Southampton Marathon
I woke up on the Tuesday after and felt that I had recovered well. The following Sunday I booked myself onto Southampton marathon. I didn’t want to train for another marathon, but I felt I could carry what I had across to the following week. So I planned to make Southampton marathon the one to make amends. I wanted to run at a steady pace, but I obviously didn’t’ have the fitness for a sub 3. Consistency was key and most of all I wanted to enjoy it and not let it beat me.
I had a massage from Jennie, ran a 5k on the Wednesday and did Parkrun on the Saturday. Sunday came. Only a handful of people knew I was running. There was less pressure for this run, so I was able to keep calm and relaxed.
Starting with a good warm up, I did dynamic stretches. I made sure I fueled well before hand. I used to always have pizza the night before a race, but for London I went with a chilli. This time I went back to pizza. I find it works well for me, maybe my body needs the fat store it gives you?
We set off and I kept it steady. The marathon was two laps, it was just brilliant! I loved the course! I felt good! The second lap went well. The last three miles were tough, but they always are. I finished 5 minutes quicker than I did London in the week before. I had done it! I had done what I wanted. The marathon went just how I had hoped and I felt I did it justice.
It Has Been Tough But I’ve Learnt a Lot
It may have taken a couple of years to get to London marathon. It may have taken a couple of marathons to get a run I was happy with. But it has taught me a lot.
Sports massage makes such a difference in your training plan, whether injured or not.
The massage treatment itself is invaluable. It allows you to recover quicker and helps to reduce the impact that training has on your body and aid recovery.
The exercises that you are given, not only help the areas that are tight or sore, but they also help to strengthen and activate the muscles that you need working well to reduce future injuries.
Never give up on a dream or a goal. There will always be something that gets in the way or makes it hard, but keep fighting. The day of your dream may not go to plan. But there is always another time and a Plan B. I don’t know if I recommend the following week, but there is always another day!
That’s it for marathons. Now time to focus on shorter distances.