Neil Featherby: A warning for anyone training for a marathon...it can become very addictive
Here we are halfway through February and while it may still seem weeks away for those who are all geared up for one of the big marathons in April, the truth is they will soon be standing on the start line with all the many months of training behind them.
Whilst it may be a case of so near yet still feel so far away, these next few weeks should be geared to peak mileage, that is for sure. There is no other event like the marathon – even the natural endurance athletes who challenge for the honours at the front of the race will get found out if they don’t put enough work in when it comes to pushing on during those last few painful miles.
For a large proportion of those who take part in the big city marathons like London, this will be their first time whereby their only challenge is to complete the distance of 26.2 miles and perhaps raise money for a great cause.
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Invariably many of these so-called novices will be following a basic programme to ensure they get round and needless to say once they have done so, the feelings of elation are almost second to none.
However, give it a few days and the thoughts of “I need to do this again”, creep in for which they have not only been bitten by the running bug, but are now also thinking that, if they train harder, they can actually achieve a better finishing time.
A few races at shorter distances down the line, along with new PBs popping up each time, they also start to realise that they have some natural ability themselves. As it happens I classify Mark (Armstrong) as one of these. Having completed his first two marathons, he now realises that he too can indeed achieve much more.
These people, along with the dedicated club runners, certainly train hard and for some it can quite easily develop into a situation of where running can take over. It goes from a case of trying to fit your running into your life to fitting your life into your running.
I’ve seen so many Facebook comments and requests for advice this week from non-club runners totally confused after reading so much conflicting information. This is where I fully endorse those who want to progress further to check out the local clubs and of course coaches who can provide the correct advice and keep everything delicately balanced.
MORE: Never underestimate what it takes to run a marathon
At the end of the day, the guys at the front of the field in big city marathons will be running sub five-minute miles for which they are likely to have track backgrounds. Mr sub four-hour marathon runner is highly unlikely to become one of them. But with lots of hard work and careful planning, I do believe there are plenty of first timers, who ‘just want to get round’ that have the potential to get their times down to levels beyond expectations. Perhaps a sub three-hour marathon, which is considered to be very worthy by many a club runner.
Finally, and just to give those that need a little further motivation, a top runner by the name of Steve Brace, who competed in the 1980s and 90s, came from pretty average beginnings. His first ever marathon was completed in 3:23 and he only went under three hours once by a few seconds in his first six attempts.
Steve went on to represent Great Britain in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics whilst also winning the Berlin and Paris Marathons. He also finished with a personal best of 2-10:35.
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