Making a solid start but committing an old marathon mistake

In the latest part of his London Marathon training blog, AW’s Euan Crumley takes a look at having a little patience when it comes to improvement

Week one of marathon training done. Box ticked. All is well. Sort of.

By and large I have been really happy with the start to my schedule. Just over 50 miles covered in the first seven days, a couple of decent sessions in the bag and a real enjoyment of getting stuck into the process of London preparation have been big plus points and positives. 

And yet already I find I’m having to tell myself off – for making familiar mistakes and falling into old traps. 

Saturday saw me take part in my local parkrun, at Levengrove Park in Dumbarton, about 15 miles north of Glasgow. 

It’s an event which began life in early December and is already showing signs of impressively rapid growth. It not only presented an opportunity to catch up with friends but also provided the chance for me to draw a line in the sand, to put down a marker of my fitness and to find out exactly where I stood. 

I was optimistic beforehand and thoroughly enjoyed the run in what was absolutely glorious winter sunshine but I definitely realised I’m some way short of firing on all cylinders yet. It was a solid if unspectacular performance and a little below what I’d been hoping to see when I stopped the watch – and it prompted a little grumble at myself. 

Thankfully, I quickly realised how daft such criticism was. 

At the start of any marathon training schedule I undertake, my goal is not just to ultimately come away with an improved time on race day, but to also get better at the actual process of training. 

Whether that involves listening to my body more, paying greater attention to nutrition, even being a little less self-critical – I’m always keen to have made some sort of positive difference to my running, regardless of whether or not that has resulted in my becoming quicker. 

Not comparing the current version of my running self to previous, fitter incarnations is one old habit I had been determined to break and exactly what I thought I might achieve by having a moan at myself about a parkrun performance just six days into a 15-week marathon training schedule I can’t really say. But that’s exactly what I did. 

It has elicited a positive response, however. My disappointment, however unjustified, has underlined to me that I’m fully invested in this marathon schedule and that it clearly means something to me. The ‘incident’ also caused me to have another, rather more encouraging, word with myself and that word was patience. 

As I tuck into week two, I’m reminding myself to ‘trust the process’ as the pros might say, not to force anything and certainly to allow time – there is plenty of it, after all – for changes to take place as the training starts to kick in. 

‘Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always got’ is another popular saying in marathon circles. I’m looking for something different this time. 

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Get involved

Thank you for your responses to the first blog of this series. I think my favourite first-time marathon memory was the person who was running the Edinburgh Marathon a few years back and saw a big sign saying ‘Yes’ planted near the route. They were impressed and inspired that someone would take the trouble to encourage all of the runners in such a way, only to discover later that it was, in fact, a message in support of Scottish independence!

This week I’d like to hear about how you avoid getting ahead of yourself when it comes to marathon training. It can be hard to contain yourself in the early stages when levels of enthusiasm and energy are high, so how do you manage to combat that feeling of wanting to go hard right from the off?

Please do get in touch and happy running. 

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