Neil Featherby: A message to all runners with big events in April

Thousands of runners will be toeing the start line at the London Marathon in under a month's time. Picture: Virgin London Marathon

Thousands of runners will be toeing the start line at the London Marathon in under a month's time. Picture: Virgin London Marathon

©Virgin Money London Marathon

As we head into April, for so many thousands of runners from all over the country it very much means that after many weeks and even more miles, their big day is nearly here.

Mark Armstrong is tapering down for the Greater Manchester Marathon. Picture: Cambridge Half MarathonMark Armstrong is tapering down for the Greater Manchester Marathon. Picture: Cambridge Half Marathon

Many will be preparing for big events at Manchester, Brighton, London, or of course much nearer to home, the Bungay Marathon.

Needless to say we also have The Larking Gowen City of Norwich Half Marathon on April 7, which for many will also be their first attempt at running 13.1 miles.

For a high majority of these runners it will be a very nervous time for them with so many thoughts going through their minds with regards to worrying about things which at other times might be considered a little trivial.

Such is the effort gone into their preparations, the fear of now getting it wrong can become very much mind consuming what with over thinking things if they aren’t careful.

Slight aches and niggles which are normally dismissed as a one out of ten on the normal pain scale can now feel like the other way around and of course the slightest sniffle creates the fear of going down with a cold just days away from toeing the start line.

Then of course thoughts of wondering if they should have done more long runs and of course about pace and nutritional requirements.

Even getting the training taper (winding down period) right can bring further stress.

Fear of losing fitness due to what should be a big reduction in the training load can cause anxiety for many.

However, the truth is that all the hard work should just about now be done.

For those running London at the end of April they can still get a bit more in, but when standing on the start line it is so important to have given your body a chance to fully recover from all the hard work to be fresh and ready to make all that training count.

If you do go to the start line heavy legged and fatigued, then the likelihood is that you just won’t be able to run to what is the best of your ability.

Mark has been a prime example with regards to worrying about getting everything spot on for the Manchester Marathon on April 7.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as having put so much time and effort into his training, he now wants to make sure it all falls into place.

Having run a new PB half marathon at Cambridge earlier this month followed by an excellent long run last weekend, it demonstrated what great shape he is in.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately depending upon how you look at it, he does also bear the scars of a previous marathon which did go badly wrong.

From a positive perspective, I am hoping this will hold him in check during those early and what I call the ‘need to be patient’ miles.

Knowing Mark like I do also means I can jump in sometimes and tell him what he perhaps needs to hear before he gets round to asking me.

He has the potential in terms of ability to be able to run a sub three hour marathon, but his lifestyle does not lend itself to being able to get enough training miles in each week to do this.

His half marathon PB also suggests that he should be capable of a sub 3 hour 30 min time, but on this occasion it might still be best to err on the side of caution and set out at a slightly slower pace.

Certainly for the first half of the run or indeed 16/18 miles. The worst case scenario should then mean that he can maintain form to the finish to finish strong and of course pass all those during the latter part of the race who have gone off too quickly.

Patience and pace in my book when it comes to running a marathon will always make for the perfect race.

What is sure is that when he does get to the start line he has ticked all the boxes and is clear in his mind as to exactly how he has to run the race whilst making sure he gets it right from the start.

Needless to say things do happen during the course of a 26.2 mile run which can change things, but I am confident that the only thing which might change is his pace during the later miles when he knows he has plenty left in the tank to push on for a new personal best and of course finishing time which does him justice.

When all is said and done, this is the beauty of running a marathon.

So much time and effort put in knowing you have to get it right on the day when it counts.

Beforehand I call it the crystal ball effect.

However, when it is over and you have done well, then that is the time when you take a deep breath and say to yourself, ‘yes all that hard work really was worth it and here’s now looking forward to the next one…’

Needless to say he won’t be saying to me “I was on for...!”

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