Saturday
Jul192014

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED

I have changed my blog onto another template. I am still trying to feigure out the details but basically this blog is now going to be discontinued and all of it is going to be moved to my new site which you can easily get to by clicking on this link.

http://www.runningandstuff.com/

 

It looks way more sexy I think. Hope you like it.

Wednesday
Jun252014

Southern Softie goes norf - Dig Deep Ultra Tour of the Peak District

"This must be at least grade 3A technicalised trail we are talking here" I thought as I stumbled over huge rocks like a baby giraffe while trying not to re-open the gashed knee I suffered a few miles before. 

However ask one of those others racing they would probably just describe it as "road". Or "rerd". 

The previous night I had given a talk to some of these guys about my long long run on some tarmac a few years ago. It was nothing like this. Yes there was a part where some roadworks meant I got dust on my shoes and a bit where I nearly tripped over a dead armadillo but that is as technical as it got.

I was really pleased to be here though and enjoying a format that I don't think happens enough in the UK. The Dig Deep race series directed by Ian Coombe looked amazing on the website and even better in reality, especially given the great weather we had. My preference is for point to point races but I liked this loop as it invovled a weekend spend camping and enjoying the company of other runners, a feeling of being outdoors and living with nature and not to mention a few casks of local beer.

The format is simple enough, two runs, a 30 mile "intro" to ultras and a 60 mile version, both completely different routes. Camping is available and during the course of the weekend there are talks from various ultra running people (such as myself) and Marcus Scotney.

Here is a game to play. Whenever someone says the elevation of a race is say 9000m and then say it's the "equivalent" of climbing Everest, even though no oxygen masks were involved, no suffocating at high altitude, no freezing your nuts off on top of the world, no ice axes or sherpas, do this...

Think of other silly comparisons for gaining altitude by walk/running. for example, the elevation in this race was around 2000m, which I reckon is the equivalent of about 1277 games of hop-scotch. Or dancing to that "Jump Jump" song for about 42 minutes, or falling out of bed 3287 times, or 2017 burpees.

Anyhoo, I digress. I chatted to Chris Edwards before the race about what lay ahead and he basically said there were two big climbs and the rest was nothing much to worry about. I found the flat trail fairly hard going though as I am out of practice on bumpy track. I did manage to fall over after around 5 miles and gash my knee open, it looked impressive and got quite a few comments from people out walking about whether I needed first aid. I reckon they should just ban people who live within the M25 from coming out on these trails without a permit.

The first really big climb was Win Hill. It felt like more than a hill. There was a wonderful couple of miles of downhill road which always contains niggling anxiety that it means there will be a big uphill soon. It was spectacular though, really quite tough and steep and I recognised a fellow southerner (because he had walking poles) and we both suffered the humid warm steep climb to the top of a really quite beautiful hill.

I chatted a bit to a chap called Matt Burton who I met at the start. When gathered before the start I overheard him say to his friend "I really wish I had seen James Adams' talk". I didn't know what to do at that point, I thought about just stepping into the conversation and saying "well, helllooooooo" like some seedy pervert but decided against it. He did then spot me and we started chatting which was nice. It was great to hear he followed the blog as I ran across the States, now available in book version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BOOK?? I never even mentioned it.

I am still trying to sell a few more copies to fun a printing of the book so feel free to send it to someone who has not yet bought :)

So Win hill was a bastard but I really had missed the simple pleasures of ultra running, such as the wonderful feeling of a hill-top breeze cooling the sweat on your face after you have slogged vertically for 20 minutes. And pork pies.

There were about 5 aid stations of which the one in the middle was immense. After around 17 miles we had a huge spread in a pavillion that included among many other things spinach and pine nut falafel balls. 

The next major climb was Rebellion Knob which did involve some map reading. There are trails all over the place here but we figured as long as we are heading upwards we are going the right way and we ended up finding the dibbing point. It was another amazing view of the peaks.

For future reference this race is quite accessible for those without a car. The race HQ was at Whirlow Farm, about 5 miles from Sheffield station and a bus will take you right there (or a taxi, or next year an Uber driver). For such a short distance outside a major city you really are out in the sticks pretty quickly. I was envious of those who live around here even though I have just moved to the country side myself. Well, Bedford. Anyone from around there want to show me some trails? Or pubs?

Chris later admitted that he was wrong about the "just two" climbs as there did seem to be a lot more, the last 10 miles of the race still had a fair few stings in. I was pleased that my new bit of kit was not annoying me. I finally bought what is known as a "race vest", a contraption that is supposed to be like running in a vest but that carries lots of stuff. It was called a "Ultimate Direction SJ vest" it was from last year so I got it half price. It has pockets everywhere but no where to put your phone so you can easily tweet and run. Didn't he write a book called tweet and run? He must have funny arms to be able to contort himself around like I had to to get a good shot of the hills.

I even wore my race number on my shorts like a proper runner, I thought I was guaranteed a win.

In the end this took me over 7 hours. I was originally hoping for around 5 but I think everyone underestimated this course. The winner was Marcus in just over 4 hours and the winner of the 60 miles came back after 10 hours which was pretty incredible on that course.

I can thoroughly recommend this race and there is a repeat of the format on 6/7th September in Suffolk (not as hilly) which you should check out. Thanks to Ian for putting on a great weekend and it was also great meeting Ellie West and Matt Greene of Summit Fever Photography who took lots of great photos of the event which can be seen here.

 

 

Sunday
May042014

040 - Tenerife

There is something quite satisfying about starting a race at the beach. The noise of the sea is very calming and can mask the trials that might lie ahead. This same beach was also the finish point and would be a welcome end to what was going to be a pretty epic run/hike. The Volcano Teide is I believe is one of the biggest in Europe, at 3,718m it is the highest point in Spain and the 10th highest island in the world. I have never been over 3,300 meters before and so was in for an altitude challenge. The race was simple, to run from the beach to the top and then back again.

Looks easy doesn't it?

I say "race" - I got a message a couple of months ago from Steve Worallo who asked if I wanted to fly out to Tenerife to capture some promo footage for a race he was planning on organising out there. "Yeah we'll just hike up there and take some action shots and try and build up some enthusiasm for the race". Then about a month later Steve was told that there were one or two locals interested in doing the event too, well actually 150 locals. So instead of being some jogging about on some hills and having some photos taken it was going to be a race.

It really felt like a race too, 150 people gathered at the sea front at midnight about to be set loose into the wonderful trails that will see us climb up way above the clouds and the tree line. There were an number of "international" runners there of which I was one. There were about 6 pretty good runners from Spain, 3 national standard mountain runners from Holland (Yes they have mountain runners) and little ol' me. In chatting to these runners the Dutch guys mentioned the likes of Jez Bragg and Ricky Lightfoot and I said that my nationality was the same as them but my running someone different. Just call me Jimmy Fatfoot.

The race started and immediately we were climbing on steep roads from the beach into a small town near Puerto De La Cruz. We were on the north side of the island where typically the more relaxed holiday makers go rather than the south were the Brits Abroad go. The streets were lined with people cheering and it had that big time atmosphere that you get in some of the Alpine races, at least for the first couple of miles. Soon we are on trails meandering up into the sky.

Those are clouds

The midnight start is to allow runners to get to the top in 8 hours as there is only permission from the National Park to open the summit for that long. The total distance of the race is 64k of which there is an aid station each 16k. 16k might not seem like a long way to run between checkpoints but when it is all up it can take a while, and it really is all up. In the first 10 mile section that took us to about 1600m we went above the clouds and I can only remember a short section that was not uphill.

The trail in the first 16k was not too tricky, the usual dusty trail. I managed to forget to charge my headtorch and it ran out after an hour and then had to use my phone to light the way. When covered by trees it was ptich black and at some point I lost the nozzle from my camel pack and had to wait for another runner with a light to come and help me find it. The first checkpoint arrived in about 3.30 hours and was just above the clouds and the trees. After this there was a large open plain section (still uphill) where I could see so many stars, the milky way and at the side of me the menacing shadow of the huge monumnet we were going to spend the rest of the morning climbing.

The path was marked quite well though I was making mistakes with my lack of light. It really was spectacular and eerie to sometimes be on the side of a volcano with no other human or light in sight and only have the stars to look at. There was no wind today which was very fortunate as it was starting to get chilly. There were some mandatory kit including a jacket which I put on here. The path was only slightly uphill but sandy for the next few miles which made it hard work. After this section we hit the rocks of the next big climbs.

For some reason I was expecting the sun to rise a lot sooner than it did, it didn't come until about 7am. All this time we were climbing without any real sense of how high we were going but then when the sun broke above the sea it made for a pretty spectacular sight. With the first light of the day I looked back from the volcano and saw a carpet of cloud covering all the low ground, then as the sun rose up through this carpet it made the volcano glow a spectacular orange. I doubt my crappy photos will do justice to just how magnificent it was. I urge you to come and to this race next year just to witness unique experiences such as this.

The climbing got really hard, false summit after false summit. The light made it a bit easier to see where I was going but I started to choke on the altitude. There was a point where I estimated I must be at about 3000m and then saw a sign that said I was at 2400m. Bollocks. My legs were not hurting too much and I was really pleased that my recently fractured toe was not causing any problems but this kind of climbing just felt alien, I could not lift my legs over the rocks and my breathing was not great.

Around 3000m with little end in sight you then see this bizarre looking golden peak just start to pop out from over the hills you are scrambling up. It's like someone put one of the Egyptian pyramids right at the top of a mountain, it looks out of place. This volcano is still active, last went off in 1909 I think. I could finally see the end even though there was still a lot of climbing to get there. 

However I didn't get to base camp in the 8 hours and was not permitted to climb the remaining 150m to the top of this thing. I was disappointed but not going to beat myself up too bad. I don't like to make excuses but if I had not been out of action for the last three months, if I had not got a masty virus the week before, not picked up a neck injury from a Ryanair flight and if I had charged my light I am certain I would have made that cut off, I missed it by about half an hour. Some hill running wouldn't go amiss in preparation for next time too. 

It got warm at the top and had to take my jacket off as the sun had direct access to the side of this rock. I filled my water and started the descent which I hoped would only take half the time it took me to get up but unfortunately I descent as badly as I ascent (I don't do flat very well either). I found the down really tough, fell a few times and oddly managed to turn back on myself and start going up again, I am not sure how I did this but was diverted back by another runner who was coming down too. I asked the stupid question "Are you coming down?" as he was coming down and I was going up. I was not sure whether I was going up to go down though.

The red rocks of sunrise

The descent seemed to take so much longer on the return, the chap I was running/walking with pointed to behind a mountain and said that the CP was there, it looks miles and miles away. The heat of the day kicked in and started to do it's work. It wasn't that hot but coming from the UK it was the first time I have been exposed to over 20 degrees for a while and the sun was reflecting from the rocks.

I thought maybe that the CP was closed as I was pretty near the back of the field now, there was a single section of uphill just before the CP which I choked on. 

The last 16k were fairly straighforward downhill and I managed to do some actual running, finishing the 10 miles in around 2 hours. It was really nice heading back under the trees, it felt like green Arizona that I enjoyed running across so much in the States. 

So in summary it took about 8.30 to get up, about 5 to get back down again. I was near the back of the field. 

So, about this race....

This was a "test" event to see whether this will work as a race. It most certainly does and I think the ambition is to increase the field from the 150 of this one to over 1000 in the future. Having (almost) completed the race and with a sense of unfinished business I really want to see this race do well and can think of dozens of you guys in the UK (and elsewhere of course) who would love this. I have never quite done anything like this.

A word of warning, it is f****g hard. I think a really capable runner could run most of it (the winner got to the top in 4.22) and in better shape I could run most of it, much of it is gradual incline. Next year it will be in June so the Sun might be more of an issue.

 

Tenerife is absolutely amazing, I had never been before (I have run in Gran Canaria and Lanzarote). It is going to be a great place to go for a holiday, with some sun lounging, some nice easy trail running and then a nails race. 

What you need to do in the meantime - is to email info@ultrarunningltd.co.uk to get on a mailing list that will keep you updated and also join the facebook page of ultrarunningltd

Oh, and Ultrarunningltd is also organising a JOGLE race next year that I am very very tempted to do. It looks like a good deal with hotels and food included and the mileage in the first week works well so that you don't have to kill yourself in the first few days. 

 

 

Monday
Apr212014

Book Review - Fat man to Green Man Ira Rainey

There has been a pleasing rise in the number of good storytellers that have started to grace the sport of ultra running. I don't know what came first in a chicken and egg sense, did people who like telling stories pick ultra running cos there are loads of stories within or do ultra runners just become story tellers because their head explodes with excitement?

Anyway, I'm babbling incoherently here unlike any point in this excellent book by Ira Rainey who is a very accomplished writer (he writes comedy) and has taken that to ultra running. He basically was inspired to run an ultra marathon after discovering a close friend had cancer. This caused him to really grab hold of his own life and do something special.

I write lots of advice about how someone should go about their first ultra, everyone is so different in their approach and motivation that the task seems impossible. However I think the most effective way to really gleam info on the subject is to read stories of those who have done it before and written about it honestly as Ira has done here.

I quite like re-living some of my own pre-ultra anxieties through this book. There are times when you do feel bionic, that you are like Neo or Anakin and you fell as though to can bend the world to your will while on a run. Then for no apparent reason the following week you feel like this.

So many things are covered here, the back to back training runs, the speed work (I was actually a bit intmidated by how fast he can knock out a 5k), the nutrition and weight loss and dealing with injury and recovery. He discovered that he was not bionic but overall he was very capable of running long distances and recalling the tales very vividly.

The story does not end with the ultra though, I don't want to spoil anything but there is a clear and well documented insight as to what ultra running can do to a person. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes running and moreso to anyone who might feel like giving one of these a go. I think Ira has produced quite a nice template as to what to expect.

Obviously it will never work out the same as that or as you predict, that's why we love it so much.

Thanks Ira :) Looking forward to meeting you soon.

Buy the book here;

 

Ira's blog is here

 

 

 

Thursday
Apr032014

Surviving your first marathon

This came along quickly didn’t it? It only feels like yesterday that you signed up for this thing, you promised yourself you’ll run miles and miles of training, gym every day and otherwise turn yourself into a super awesome running machine.

How did that go?

If your answer is “not quite as planned” then don’t worry, you are in the overwhelming majority of runners who feel the same. Two bits of advice I have for the start line;

Don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides

And

Don’t Panic!!

Right now you may be looking around at your friends who are running the marathon or perhaps at the start line where everyone just looks in a state of bliss, no nerves or anxiety amongst any of them. Let me tell you something I have learned from speaking to 100s of marathon runners over the years, everyone is chewing up on the inside, everyone is a little bit scared and worried that they have not quite done enough to get to the finish line.  

So are you a bit scared? Good. You should be and so is everyone else. You are about to do something that is pretty amazing, probably harder than anything you have done before and these feelings of worry and fear will translate later into feelings of euphoria and achievement.

In my first marathon I was so nervous my node bled for the first 3 miles. I turned up at the start expecting there to be marathon bouncers who would look at you and decide that you are not fit to start. I thought they would just look at me and laugh me away, “Ha ha ha, you’re avin a laugh aren’t you”.

Here follows some practical advice for surviving your first marathon.

The night before the night before

You’ll have heard no doubt that sleep is important for many reasons, it allows us to rest, to switch off from the previous day and to regenerate our brains to tackle the next day. Without it we will be unproductive slow zombies.

Don’t panic about not getting much sleep the night before. You are nervous and perhaps paranoid about oversleeping or just can’t stop thinking about the race. I remember in my first marathon I woke up every 20 minutes paranoid that I didn’t have enough safety pins. It’s normal, don’t panic.

It is quite likely that you will not sleep well the night before, this is fine, don’t worry too much about it just try as best you can to relax. You are not an iPhone who will just cease to function when the battery runs out, your battery has much more life than you can ever imagine (those with young children will know this better than most).

For me sleep is a bonus if I can get it the night before but I don’t let it worry me if it doesn’t happen.

It is actually more important to get a good night sleep the night before the night before so try to create the conditions to allow this. Don’t force yourself up by an alarm or commit to too much activity in the morning.

If possible try to avoid any stress in the previous week. You don’t want demons floating around in your head the night before so if you can avoid moving house, getting divorced, dealing with idiots at work or supporting Tottenham in the week before the race that would help massively.

Check form

26 miles is a long way. You’ll probably hit the ground about 50 thousand times and it is hard to get all of these things perfect.  You are told that putting one foot in front of the other is easy; ask them to do it on running 21 miles. Sometimes getting the feet to lift of the ground is quite hard.

Use the mile markers as “form checks”. Whenever you see them ask yourself “Is my stride good, am I standing tall, how are my feet landing? Am I thirsty, do I need more energy? Am I running too fast? Or too slow?”

Use these to prompt a mental checklist that you will then act on every mile. It is easy to forget these simple things and then run into all sorts of trouble. If you think about them constantly though you might just go insane and miss out on lots of the atmosphere.

“When I was thirsty – I drank”

The best advice came from Forrest Gump when he said “When I was thirsty – I drank”. It really isn’t any more complicated that this.

Your body is a magnificent feat of biological engineering that has been perfected over millions of years to perform endurance exercise in fairly warm conditions. Your sweat processes and heat management is almost unique in the animal kingdom and is potentially a contributing factor to how we have had the time to grow these huge brains that have led to great leaps of science and culture such as quantumn physics, the Mona Lisa and Gogglebox.

It knows when it needs water, better than any textbook. Contrary to a lot of old textbooks if you are thirsty you are NOT “somewhat” dehydrated, you are just thirsty, simple as that.

The two biggest mistakes I have seen in marathons are;

Not drinking when thirsty early on as it is inconvenient to do so and drinking robotically to a schedule, ignoring your bodies opinion on the need for fluid.

People not drinking early when they are thristy and then trying to “catch up” later on by drinking like a fish. Have you ever downed a pint then had to run for the last train? The results will be similar, only with more people watching. And TV cameras.

Simply try to quench your thirst the day before and in the morning and if you are thirsty at mile 3 then don’t say “I’ll just crack out a few more miles before having a drink”, just have a drink then.

But don’t drink robotically to a schedule. Drinks manufacturers have made a lot of money telling us we should be drinking more than we need, ruining many a marathon and charging for the privelidge. Let your body decide. It’s not stupid.

OK maybe a bit... but for other reasons.

Also, drinking DOES NTO cool you down. pouring water on your skin does but if it is a hot day still only drink when thirsty, there is no mechanism whereby putting cold fluid in you cools you down.

Pasta Party like it’s 1999

Pause reading for a moment and answer the questions “What is carb loading?”

I bet 90% of you got it wrong. I bet 90% of the answers were something like “it’s where you scoff down 2 large bowls of pasta and a pizza the night before the race so that you have the energy required to get around a marathon”.

This is wrong. Carb loading is quite a bit more complicated than that, it is actually quite hard to do and it doesn’t always work. I suggest that in your three meals of the day before you just eat a bit more in each.

The day before the race is not the time to discover new foods. In fact it is not the time to deviate from what you normally eat. If you normally eat lots of bread and pasta then eat that the night before, if your diet is more fruit based or rice based then that is fine too. A mistake many people make is to deviate from their usual diet to one that contains lots of wheat and then struggle with stomach problems during the marathon. If you don’t typically eat pasta/bread etc then don’t do so before the race, eat what you usually eat.

Should you abstain from Alcohol? My answer to this is going to be psychological rather than nutritional. A couple of beers/wines will have no nutritional impact on your race so long as you are well hydrated. Ask yourself whether it will help you relax. I think the benefits to be gained by being relaxed far outweight any slight impact a beer might have on your body. Just don’t relax too much. 7 pints is too much relaxing.

Visualise your dream race

There is not much you can do to improve yourself physically now but a hell of a lot you can do mentally.

Olympic cyclists do it, war generals do it and you have probably done it in a presentation at work. You rehearse in your mind the perfect race, the perfect battle, the perfect pitch. You imagine the roar of approval from your colleagues or fans as you execute the perfect manouvers to achieve your goals.

Even just thinking about it gives you great confidence, it excites you, it motivates you. These are all great things and you should spend the few weeks before the marathon thinking in this way. It will get you buzzing on the start line.

But this thinking does something even more profound. Without wanting to scare you this kind of thinking increases your tolerance for suffering. I don’t  want to over state it but running a marathon for the first time you are going to suffer. However the more you have visualised succes the more you are willing to suffer to achieve this goal.

By visualing success you are investing more psychologically in the race and will be more likely to pull through the hard times, the more you feel you have to lose. It’s like watching the Matrix trilogy. You watched the first two, the third was absolute crap but there is no way you are going to not finish the job, you feel like the whole thing would be a waste of time if you didn’t.

The wall

The wall is both a mental and physical thing. There is little you can do to avoid it but lots you can do to get over it. I will try to explain what I believe the wall is. (Please note I am not a medical professional, a nutro-biologist or a physiopolist).

Your main source of energy for running is glucose. You have about enough to run 15-20 miles on this. When this source runs out your body turns more to fat burning to keep your legs moving. Your body can do this fine however the transition can be uncomfortable.

I’ve heard various descriptions as to what this transition is like. It’s like being hungover, or really angry, or drunk or giving up caffiene cold turkey or like having the flu or all of the above. These are all real feelings in response to a real change in your body but they won’t last long. However it can poison the mind, and then the wall can hurt you for much much longer.

The marathon is a fiendish distance. You are made to run until your sugar runs out, you then get hit by this wall thing and then told you have at least 10 miles left to run. It’s like been thrown into a room with One Direction and only been given three bullets.  When the wall hits and you first feel its effects it is easy to start exprapolating. Dammit if I feel this bad at mile 17 how on earth am I even going to make it to mile 20?

You then start of a downward emotional spiral where you start to doubt yourself, question the point of what you are doing and start to find excuses for why you didn’t finish. You look for a way out, you find it harder to justify carrying on. This is the melancholy you must defeat.

These negative thoughts then make it harder physically. You notice the pains in your legs more, your heart beats faster because you are a bit more stressed, you might breathe harder, your natural flow of running is disrupted and now you expend more energy to put one foot infront of the other. The wall has not done these things directly, it did them via your own brain.

Sneaky little bugger isn’t it?

My advice on this section is to be aware that it will come and then when it does remember that it does not last forever. This really is the time to just start surviving one mile at a time, not letting the fear ruin your race completely.

Relentless Forward Progress.

Comfort eating

Nutrition in the race is possibly the worstest done thing by people in a marathon. Probably runs pacing into second place. I think the first thing to recognise is that most people will at some point get this wrong and so you should not feel too bad for having doubts. The main thing to remember is that no one can authoratively tell you exactly what to eat and when as everyone is different.

Well that was helpful wasn’t it?

If I was to advise on one thing it would be to try and delay taking sugar until at least the second half of the race, sugar makes you high and makes you crash. You can to some extent avoid this crash with more sugar to get another high (sounds like substance abuse doesn’t it? It kind of is). Sugar can be a tricky game to play.

How do you know if you need food? Well you’ll probably be grumpy, that’s the cue. Hangry I believe is the correct term. If you start to feel like you want to punch the people who are cheering you on then look for a small child and take a jelly baby off them (assuming they are offering them, it would be mean just to steal from them no matter how grumpy you are).

Imagine the sugar gushing down into your legs and electrifying your muscles, pushing them on to finish the race. OK I don’t mean to sound like a homeopathic shrink but that visualisation works for me.

Pace yourself - somehow

I am going to take a wild guess here and say that you are not Mo Farah. If it is you Mo then hello and good luck in the marathon. Perhaps eat some meat this time so that you don’t fall over at the end.

I am assuming that you are not planning on winning the marathon.

Pacing is a contentious topic and when you start the race you will be so full of hormones that maybe you have never experienced before that you will set out like a bat out of hell. Humans do things like that when full of hormones, I think it’s a design fault.

I think the key things here to remember are not to set out too fast but also that everyone slows down a bit. This “bit” varies from doing the second half one minute slower than the first to doing the second half about 4 hours slower than the first.

Pick your “optimistic” time and head for half way in half of that. For example you may have a target of 4.00 but think optimistically you could get 3.50. Then head for halfway in 1.55, if you are right about your optimistic pace you should arrive there on time and if you are feeling good you should be able to continue at that pace.

If however you might have overstetched yourself at least you have not done so by much and you can afford to slow down a little and still achieve your original goal.

Enjoy being the star

My first marathon I think was my first public performance since a school production of “Rama and Sita” where I played a talking monkey who set fire to curtains with my arse. There are not that many parallels between the two performances (only one did I actually feel real burning in my rear end). However my first marathon was made better by the feeling that I was genuinely a star of some show.

And you will be, thousands of people will be lining the streets cheering you on with a genuine respect and bewilderment for what you are doing. Some of them may have run marathons before but most wont because it does not even occur to them to push themselves in this way.

Draw on their support and feel inspired by your own efforts just for being there. Look forward to the bragging rights afterwards, in the pub, at home, at work.

I have to say that I envy the position you are in right now. Your first marathon is a magical experience that will never be repeated. It’s like having kids I imagine, the first is brillant but then the subsequent ones are a bit rubbish. Only joking, I imagine having kids is way harder than running a marathon.

Every moment of the day will be a significant part of the rest of your life, whether you get your dream time or get carted off in an ambulance you’ll have stories to tell people after this race. Make them good.

PS I forgot all the usual advice. Don’t wear new shoes, only eat gels you’ve tried before, lube everywhere, remember to tie your laces, safety pins, don’t look directly at the sun with a telescope etc etc.

I hope you liked this article. If you did then feel free to comment and share.  And also (if you didn't know) I have a book out which I am told is more entertaining than watching an ultra runner poo themself (which is essentially what my book is about).