My primary goal for the Paris Marathon was not to worry about pace and enjoy the run. This was a buildup race as my plan is to work hard over the summer for the Chicago marathon.
So I turned off my running watch notifications, ran by how I felt, with the aim to not stop running. I achieved all these goals in a time of 3:47:32. Although I’ve run several faster marathons, I enjoyed this marathon more, as I was running in the moment throughout, which is something that can be forgotten in the chase for PRs.
Life always seems to have a funny way to test you, when you ask to be challenged, it gives you a little bit more challenge than you asked for. In the case of Tokyo the heat and injury derailed me and I faced these two challenges again in Paris.
It was a sunny 24°C in Paris which was much hotter than 13°C in Tokyo. However much of my training in London was done in colder weather.
“Relax, nothing is under control.” Adi Da Samraj
One of the main lessons I learnt, is for the things I encounter which are outside of my control. Whilst there isn’t an absence of fear these situations should be met with courage and a can do attitude. Followed by trusting yourself to make the next best decision only.
Being relaxed but alert made this experience better. In my previous race I made my conscious thoughts solely directed to the PR. Ironically the act of trying to force control of a situation highlighted that I was masking the subconscious feeling of not being in control, as my thoughts at the time became negative when I wrongly took ownership of factors not in my control like weather and injury etc.
The lesson is if it’s not yours to carry, then let it go.
Nutrition: it’s important to stick to what you have tried during training. So bar using the water at the aid stations, I carried my Decathlon water bottle with a Science in Sport GO Electrolyte drink mix. Whist running I had 1x SiS gel every 20mins. This generally comprised of one GO Energy + Electrolyte Gel per hour, followed by two regular gels. It wasn’t until the end of the race that I used the GO Energy + Caffeine gels. Using the 20min reminders to fuel was a great way to break the race down into lots of smaller mini races, helping me to stay in the moment.
Training: I’ve been using the Hansons Marathon Method plus doing extra training with my running club which has increased my mileage. There is no way around that to run fast for a marathon you need to do the miles. And this is something I’ll be working on developing through the summer. To run fast will take more time, but within the short time I used the Hansons method, it has been a positive experience.
Injury: Like Tokyo my training schedule was injury free. However during the race I had an intermittent shin split pain around mile 7 onwards. I subconsciously was reminded of my injury in Tokyo, rather than focusing on the negatives I dealt with it in these three steps:
- I asked myself how much it hurt on a scale of 1-10.
- As it wasn’t above 7 at the time, I focused on the fact I could still run without too much limitation. (If it was above a 7 don’t be a hero, I’d always recommend seeking medical attention not to make it worse).
- I finally reminded myself that I signed up to marathon, because I enjoy challenges and pushing my limits. Therefore I’d be a hypocrite for backing out of something I asked for. The marathon is meant to be hard, therefore this was a perfect opportunity to meet this challenge.
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling
Have a Mantra: Have a word, or sentence that keeps you focused in the moment, which allows negative thoughts in, but to answer them objectively and with courage. Which is summarised in the poem The Guest House by Rumi.
The Race: Firstly…some of the cyclists in the crowd need to remember that this isn’t the Tour de France, one inconsiderate rider rode into a runner. I had another cyclist meandering slowly amongst a group of runners, as if it was if it was easy Sunday ride.
Paris is such a beautiful city and you get to see the amazing architecture on the route. I’ve been fortunate to go to Paris a few times before so my full focus was on the race, rather than the architecture.
However it was hard not to get caught up by the great energy of the bands, which reminded me of the entertainment at the New York Marathon.
The start and finish, and overall crowd support was amazing to the cheers of “Allez! Allez! Allez!”
It’s a great feature to have your name on your bib, which encouraged people to cheer you on.
Also the energy from the French ASICS FrontRunners team at 40km was like a shot of caffeine for the final stages of the race. Thank you!
There were some great crowd signs such as “Chuck Norris finished the marathon yesterday!” Or “You signed up to this!” Which definitely lightened the mood.
Overall this has been one of my favourite marathon experiences. I’m proud to have been runner 10,843 of the 42,443 heroes on the day.
Although running should be serious in terms of doing the best that you can, however it should also be fun at times, and Paris reminded of this. I’d highly recommend this marathon and I would do it again.
Wrap up: Time to rest and recover. Post race my shin has given me some pain but in a weird way the experience was worth the discomfort. As the crowd sign said I signed up to the marathon so I can’t blame anyone else!
Following the marathon I received a comment of congratulations from Dame Kelly Holmes on my Instagram feed. To hear that from one of Britains best Olympians is an amazing honour, which I’m still buzzing about!
The previous weekend for the Manchester Marathon running the marathon relay with Peter and coming in third place, and then the following weekend in Paris, has been a great fortnight of running.
In my marathon journey, I’ve learnt that the end point isn’t what it’s about, it’s important to work hard so you can have no regrets, but equally there must be time to enjoy the journey. During the tougher moments you need to trust the process, in a relaxed fashion, accepting the high and low points equally.
This is summed up by Sergio Garcia who recently won his first Major title in golf at his 74th attempt.
“Sometimes, I did think about, am I ever going to win one. I’ve had so many good chances and either I lost them or someone has done something extraordinary to beat me. So it did cross my mind. But lately, you know, I’ve been getting some good help and I’ve been thinking a little bit more positive. And kind of accepting, too, that if it for whatever reason didn’t happen, my life is still going to go on. It’s not going to be a disaster. But I’m glad it’s happened…To be totally honest, I’m very happy but I don’t feel any different. I’m obviously thrilled about what happened here, but I’m still the same goofy guy, so that’s not going to change. I think the problem is, because of some of the moments I’ve had here at Augusta that maybe I haven’t enjoyed it so much. But I realised how stupid I really was trying to fight against something that you can’t fight; and now I’m proud of accepting those things.”
Thank you list:
- Firstly thanks to organisers of Paris for putting on a great race, and to the amazing volunteers.
- Thanks to ASICS for the kit and the support. It was great to connect with UK, French, Dutch FrontRunners.
- Thanks to my running friends who I caught up with out there David, Leopoldo, Romane, Stephen, Nick, Matt, ChiChi, Marvin, Said, Ivan, Manon etc.
- Thanks to Science in Sport for the supporting my nutrition needs.
- Thanks to Enertor global for the performance insoles. You can get £10 off Enertor Performance Insoles, using the code: MARCUS10
- Thanks to Decathlon for the Kalenji 500ml bottle belt.
- Thanks to SKINS for sending me their DNAmic kit, I’ve been wearing the compression gear post marathon and long runs and it’s really helped in my recovery, so I got my wife a pair.
- Congratulations to the other UK FrontRunners for completing Paris Nick, Raphael and Eddy.