The When

A Wilmslow Personal Trainer's quest to break a three hour marathon

I’ve entered the ballot for the 2022 London Marathon. This year it takes place on the 2nd October. They say due to the amount of race cancellations during COVID lockdowns this is the most difficult year to get in and there’s about a 3% chance of getting through the ballot, so I’m not holding out much hope.

Except I am. Obviously I entered the ballot last year too, I did not get in. So why am I hopeful this time? Well you see this is the last London Marathon to be held in October vs April, and why does that matter I hear you ask. You don’t actually run the marathon on the day itself, there’s the huge amount of time, effort and distance that goes into marathon training. Put simply marathon training in the Summer is a dam sight more appealing than marathon training in the Winter.

Running in even the British summer is a thing of beauty. The smells and the colours are lovely, I like the puddles of sunlight piercing through the trees and illuminating the forest floor. It occurred to me last time I was day dreaming while running through the local woods that somehow, I don’t know a single thing about any type of flower, tree or plant. In the 35 years I’ve been on this planet every time anyone talks about gardening, I simply switch off. It’s like a haze washes over me and a monkey plays the tambourine in my head. I can’t tell the difference between an Oak tree or a Beech tree (I even had to google beech tree to make sure I’ve spelled it correctly). What is an Ash tree? I can’t even continue on with my metaphor because that is where my knowledge of trees ends.

The same applies to the wonderful flowers I see. I feel like my 1 year old son learning his colours. Lue (blue) he says every time he points at my car. I know the flower is blue but just as he doesn’t know the make and model of my car I don’t know the make and model of the flower. He knows Daddy has a blue car, I know that’s a blue flower. Hink (pink), lellow (yellow), curcle (purple), lack (black) and red (he can actually say that one). Apart from the fact I can say my p’s, y’s and b’s we’re the same, exactly the same. If you were to present us both with a tulip we would both say the colour and nothing more, I am in fact on the same intellectual level as my 1 year old.

Despite my oblivion to the true beauty I am running through I still like it. The sun kisses your skin, it’s rarely hot enough to crisp you up like a deep fried Scottish mars bar. I often describe the British sun as ‘just nice’. The summers morning’s are a joy, it’s light so much earlier and everyone seems so much happier. I’ve only ever done one marathon paced workout and there’s a good reason for this which I will explain in my next blog ‘humble beginnings’.

The only negative thing about running through woodland in the summer is the odd encounter with a wasp. I don’t like wasps, people say they are essential for the environment. I refuse to believe this just like Donald trump refuses to believe in climate change, it seems him and I are burying our head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away.

I don’t think either of these problems are going away. I know first hand my problem isn’t going away because I was stung not too long ago in the bloody winter, aren’t wasps supposed to die at the end of summer? When a wasp gets into your house you can open a window, open the door, in fact we have big bifold doors across the back of our house. Open a 20ft gap for the wasp to escape to its freedom while also preserving its life but no, it’s too stupid to fly out of it. Instead it will hover in front of it’s escape to freedom before returning into the house, thus forcing me to chase it with the wasp and fly spray. You can imagine my surprise then when a wasp hit me like a poison arrow out of no where, latching itself onto my upper arm before pleasing himself to his daily dose of anger management by relieving himself in my arm. They can’t fly out of a window when their life depends on it but they can sink their dart into me like Phil Taylor can sink his dart into the bullseye.

Despite the one single draw back marathon training in the summer is more appealing that in the winter. It’s not so much the cold or the rain. Once you’re a mile or two in both of those submerge into insignificance. It’s the wind really, the wind does not go away it stays with you all the way through relentlessly pushing you back like the final travelator in gladiators.

The wind is petulant, obnoxious even. How can I be running into a head wind, turn around and run into another head wind? How is that possible? Why am I yet to experience a tail wind? I have therefore decided the wind is like an adolescent boy. “Why did you throw Belshaw’s pencil case out of the window Keyworth?” Because it’s funny of course. Then when Belshaw walked round outside to collect his pencil case I would of course draw a penis on the front of his workbook. There was also a time roughly between the ages of 18 and 25 where I found it absolutely impossible to walk past a fire extinguisher without setting it off. Maybe this is my pay back, the wind then is like a younger version of me. It thinks it’s funny but really it’s just a proper pain in the ass.

As you know I like running and I do like the ‘long run’. You do get that extra level of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment after a really long run and the thought of really diving into marathon specific training is an appealing one. My wife however doesn’t like the long run, she says I’m out for too long, my mum says it’s “too far Richard”, my coach also holds me at a certain time duration as to not negatively impact my next session. However in my mind runs are like the penis’s I used to draw on Belshaw’s workbook, they can not be big enough.

This is why I really do hope I get in this year. But will I be ready to run sub 3 this year? It’ll be touch and go, but I’ll give it a dam good shot.

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