24. The Penguin Marathon Strategy

At the end of a busy term, I look back over the past couple of months and wonder how I’ve managed to keep this running lark up. But then again, I’ve had a plan all along – to tell people I’m running a marathon, then they keep asking me how it’s going, so I have to do some running to have something to update them on. And its worked (so far) – win! My pride would not allow me to back out now. It’s all or nothing.

I was doing a little bit of research recently about the marathon and looked up how many ballot applications there were this year, and found this out… 125,000 applications for the ballot were made in less than 12 hours! I have to say, I was not expecting that! I was clearly not the only one who set a reminder on my phone to apply as soon as it opened. I clearly didn’t think through the fact that as soon as I clicked ‘apply’, it did in fact give me the tiniest chance of getting a place. And that tiny chance could actually become a reality. I will keep reminding myself of this when I want to give up…124,999 other people wanted this place, but I got it. Don’t stop.

As some of you know (I keep raving about it) I’ve been reading Marathon Running for Mortals. There are some great words of wisdom in it, and anyone planning on or in the process of training for a marathon MUST read it! I am not an avid reader by any stretch of the imagination, but I have loved reading this brilliant mix of invaluable advice, personal anecdotes and good humour.

For those of you who don’t have time/patience/energy to read it, here are a few quotes that I enjoy…

  • If you’ve got this far [starting the race], if you are standing in the pack at the start of your goal race, you have already accomplished more than most. Take the time right there and then to congratulate yourself. For you, and the for the hundreds or thousands of other participants, the party is just about to begin.
    (NB. I might wear a party hat at the start of the marathon, you never know…)
  • Don’t try anything new on race day. Don’t try anything new on race day. Whatever you are feeling during race week, it’s normal. Don’t try anything new on race day.
  • When you get to the race site, immediately get into the portable-toilet queue. I’m not joking. Do not stop to talk. Do not look around for friends. Make a bee-line for the portable toilets. I don’t care how often you go to the toilet before you leave the hotel; you are going to need to go again before the race starts. Don’t take any chances. Get in the queue. When you’ve got to the front of the queue, then got in and out of the portable toilet, get back in the queue again. Trust me on this one. Stay in the portable toilet queue until you have to line up for the race.
  • Mile 20 is ‘the wall’. For many runner and walkers, this is where the marathon starts. As a friend of mine used to say, the marathon is 20 miles of hope followed by 6 miles of truth.
  • What you decide to do with that medal is up to you. We recommend that you wear it until you have annoyed everyone in your life. Wear it to work. Wear it to college. Wear it to bed. Wear it everywhere. Show it to everyone. Tell everyone how you earned it. And don’t take it off until someone pries it from your fingers.
  • The gift of finishing is available to everyone standing at the start line. It’s available to everyone who is willing to accept who they are at that moment – not who they want to be or wanted to be, but who they are.
  • And finally – The Penguin Marathon Strategy:



16. Luck not Judgement

Ha. I’ve worked out that out of complete luck and absolutely no judgement my current training schedule syncs exactly to that suggested in the holy grail of marathon running books (Marathon Running for Mortals), so I can start their schedule at the right base level, to the week. Probably couldn’t have planned that if I tried. But it does mean I have a good training plan to follow, and can work out how far I need to be running with a bit more support behind it than ‘it sounds about right’. Which also brings to light a scary reality.

The London Marathon is 20 weeks away.

Yep that’s right. Oh dear me. Literally hundreds of miles to run between now and then.

Here’s the low down on this week, bringing me up to speed and ready to hit the training hard on this time consuming schedule ahead…

Run 25 – Tuesday picked up the training again after 2 days off. It felt like a bit of an effort, but once I got going it wasn’t too bad. I thought I’d run further than I had, so was a bit annoying having to hold my phone to watch the tenths of miles slowly tick by and finally reach the golden 3.1 miles.

Run 26 – Thursday sounded very cold outside (I heard the mind rustle a few leaves) from the comfort of my nice warm bed and was a bit of a struggle to convince myself I had to get up and go out. After much deliberation, I made it out for a short run and all was well with the world once more.

Run 27 – This was a Saturday again, and Mum drove down mega early to join me for my first 5km (3.1 miles) Parkrun . Freeeeezing cold (I kept my jumper on the whole way round, that’s how cold) with the coastal wind in our faces but officially completed in 36 min 41 secs. It is a circular (for the pedantic mathematicians amongst you, okay it was more elliptical) course of 2 laps along the Tankerton seafront, up a bit of a slope and back along the Marine Parade. Great to have a timed set course, and it gives you a small taste of what it is like running with lots of other people around you – one of the things I think I’ll find hardest on Marathon day. I like my space when running, so it might be interesting! Having said that, most people disappeared off into the distance pretty quickly so it almost felt like a normal run. I may have come 112th out of 123 but at least I wasn’t last (only because the last 11 people were parents running with children under 6 years old…). I sneakily gave mum my time tag to log so I could keep running and get an extra lap in which pushed my distance up to 4.8 miles in 56 mims which I was happy with considering the arctic conditions. Just under 12 min miles is still consistent.

I’m quite enjoying these longer runs at the moment. Anyone else want to join me for a Parkrun soon? I can’t guarantee good weather, but can guarantee a friendly bunch and a hot drink afterwards. Not a bad deal I say.

The beautiful Tankerton views that greeted us