05 April 2020

Virgin Money London Marathon blog – January

January 31, 2017

January, has on the whole, been a good month for my marathon training. Pretty much all my long runs have been on cold, but bright and dry days, but this tail end of the month has been wet, grey and very mucky, and I have been low on energy. So, last week, rather than roll over and concede defeat I decided to find some something uplifting to motivate me.


Inspiration came in the form of RUN FOREVER, a film about Nicky Spinks’s epic 45 hour, 132 mile, record-breaking run through the lake District. The film documents both her record attempt, but also her personal battle with breast cancer. Now, if like me, you’re not a fan of ‘against the odds sob stories’ stay with me – it’s not that kind of film. This is a really genuine tale of an incredible feat, interjected with key moments in Nicky’s life to give us an insight into the woman herself. The cancer diagnosis is one part of her life and this chapter is told with a direct and honest openness.


It was the running that brought a lump to my throat though. 132 miles, up and down hills; at one point using a rope to clamber up to the marker point. Even the stiles looked gruelling, I could totally imagine how her legs must have felt, and yet there was no grumbling (at least not on film), just a quiet commitment to get it done.


It certainly made me think about my approach to the London Marathon, and more importantly, my longer training runs. So much about distance running is the mindset you approach the run with. If I set off to do six miles, it often feels like I couldn’t have gone much further; whereas, if I set off to run twelve miles then six feels a doddle. Now, when I am doing a longer run, I imagine how it must feel to have 50 or 100 miles ahead of me and that makes my significantly shorter run seem much more manageable.

I also try and enjoy my surroundings and don’t wear a watch or keep too close an eye on my pace; I run according to how I feel and that helps me switch-off the mile counter in my head.

This approach only works because obviously I am not trying to set a PB, or even a fast time. I am completely realistic about what is possible with my limited training time. But one things for sure, I am intending to enjoy the whole process, which brings me onto the subject of the smile factor as mentioned in my last post:

On the whole, fellow runners smile, and sometimes even say hello – I love this – it’s friendly and supportive and makes me feel part of the club. Of course not everyone does. Some are too serious, some are going too fast, others are in their own world, and some are just avoiding eye contact with everyone. That’s all fair enough of course, but I’m hoping to gently coax a few more smiles out there – especially from the slower contingent like me.

This weeks training:
1. Steady, flat 21.3km. 6.23/km pace
2. Hill efforts. Total 5.7km
3. Steady, flat 1okm. 5.51/km pace

Grey, misty, muddy.

Smile factor: 80%

Read the first in this series here

Danielle Sellwood, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine






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