Neil Featherby: You have to be pragmatic in your training before tackling a marathon

Neil Featherby has been helping get Mark Armstrong in shape for the Robin Hood Marathon. Photo: Arch

Neil Featherby has been helping get Mark Armstrong in shape for the Robin Hood Marathon. Photo: Archant

With just two weeks to go before Mark Armstrong toes the line for the start of the Robin Hood Marathon, I think it is blatantly obvious that his recent columns really do sum up his feelings and, in truth, the rather haphazard build up to the race.

After the Edinburgh Marathon back in May which, in truth, was not a good run by his standards, he said he wanted to do Nottingham for which I said I thought he should focus on The Run Norwich 10k and Royal Parks Half Marathon to give his body the time it needed to recover before building up again for a marathon in 2018.

MORE: Make sure your goals are clear and tailor your training for successNevertheless, he insisted, and I said I would do my very best to advise along the way. Talking of along the way, right up to the beginning of August, he was beset with niggles which at one point looked like he wasn't even going to make the start line for the 10k, never mind 26.2 miles just over a month later.

However, and even if it was a last-minute decision, he did run the Norwich 10k and in a reasonable time too. Most pleasingly since then the training, albeit with a lot of manipulation and amendments to his programme, has gone okay and he has managed to complete three decent longish runs without any problems.

MORE: Master the mind before you run a marathonThis weekend will see his longest run yet which has been carefully planned for him to run to orders and, providing he gets through this okay, we will then start the taper to ensure he is as ready as he can be for the big day.

There is no way I would normally advocate doing the longest training run so soon before a marathon, but Mark's circumstances are different.

If he can't get through this weekend's run, then in truth Nottingham would not be the best place to find out as all that would do is lead to further disappointment and knock his confidence in respect of running a good marathon at a future date.

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I firmly believe he is capable of a sub 3:30 marathon next year, but just right now let's get this one done and dusted to move on with a good winter's training and then look forward to not only a good marathon in the new year, but personal bests at all distances.

Good luck to everyone taking part in this Sunday's Great North Run which includes Mark's wife, Alison.

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