With running and any exercise adventure you learn a lot about yourself. Personally, I think in nothing more so than the marathon. It teaches you your physical limits and your capabilities. You learn how to persist through hard times and realise how fighting for something eventually reaps the rewards! One thing I’ve realised recently is, accepting failure of personal expectations for this distance is extremely hard.
Training up for marathons takes 4/5 months of your life. You eat sleep train all towards one day, one 26.2mile race and if you don’t achieve your goal it can be extremely frustrating.
I learnt this lesson on a melting hot day in Brighton a few weeks back. All my training runs had been on pace for sub 4, my body felt great, mentally I was there. What happened? UNSEASONAL 22c weather 🙄 by 16 miles the time was a myth and finishing with a PB was the goal. I still managed a PB by 2minutes but deep down I was disappointed. All those runs everything went to plan and one that didn’t was the important one. I’ve wallowed, beaten myself up and have accepted it- completing a marathon is an awesome feat no matter the time.
How am I moving on from it? With Edinburgh in less than 3 weeks I’m keeping my body ticking over, keeping it strong and remembering I can still run at the pace I desired for the time I want. For future hot races? Getting out and running in that environment (pretty hard in the UK) but it’s the plan.
I asked two of my far more experienced marathon running amigos, fellow NRC London Pacers and all round good friends Amrit and Laura on their experiences from London this year.
Amrit: London Marathon 2017
Plan A – 3.10 / Plan B – 3.15 / Plan C – Sub 3.22 (Old PB time)
Heading into the marathon, I felt the fastest I’ve felt, overcame an injury issue post Chicago Marathon and trained well, progressed within this block of training.
Race day, set out to run my plan A time, 16 miles all at 7:15min/mile pace, as the miles progressed my legs felt heavier, small signs on cramp started to enter both quads and as miles got deeper into the race, my legs were not getting any lighter.
Reason why? I wasn’t drinking enough. I held off some of the cramp by boosting my electrolytes and realised during this was the cause during the race, but with every step I was depleting my body further so not taking enough fuel till this point set me back.
As my plan A had gone at mile 18, I held onto Plan B until mile 22 and then my sole focus was to beat my Chicago PB and I came in at 3.18. Was I happy? Yes, for 10 miles I faced a battle and still came out faster. Race execution was decided weeks before and I was training at that pace and went with that pace, no regrets. I learnt that during the race, accepting your race day targets can be judged on how you feel on the day, sometimes it goes to plan, and you execute the perfect race, in this instance I ended up with plan C. What it showed me was the race didn’t go to plan A but it did not rule all the hard work that goes into a race.
How have I moved on? I took 10 days of doing no physical activity, rested the mind, rested the body and refuelled myself. I have gently got myself back running at the same frequency per week albeit the distance is low right now post 2 weeks since London. I have re-introduced strength and core and come Berlin Marathon in September, the race outcome will be very different.
I could have crossed the London Marathon finish line this year feeling disappointed. I could have been gutted I missed all 3 finish times I had in my head throughout that race, but ultimately it came down to finishing regardless of time. I couldn’t have felt more prepared for this marathon. I’d given it everything over the months and months of training, I felt strong and positive.
So what happened? I still don’t know. It shows just how much you can feel prepared but if it isn’t your day, then it just isn’t your day. There isn’t much you can do about it, so don’t beat yourself up.
I crossed the finish line proud, and then that was all that mattered in the end. I had pushed through when I had wanted to quit, and I had still run and finished the London Marathon, a race so many people want to run, and in a time that two years ago I was still dreaming of.
It would have been easy to feel upset, but the positivity I had at the start line I needed to keep after, and I did my best. I was lucky that I already had another marathon booked and I honestly believe having a race that didn’t go to plan is only fuelling my fight for that one more. I am also lucky to have had so many amazing friends there after who just understand.
It is important to remember that taking on a marathon in the first place is amazing. If they were easy, everyone would do them, right? I certainly had to remind myself of this when a non-runner reminded me I’d run a marathon quicker in the past. I know, thanks! Time can be pressure and expectations can be hard, but crossing any marathon finish line is a huge achievement and one to be extremely proud of.