I recently ran the Winter Series 10k which I earned a PB, before I talk about the race I wanted to let you in to the secret of PBs and running faster, so it’s…

Having a new born baby and getting little sleep!!

Jokes aside there is no secret to improving my recent running times, I’m not a full time athlete and I fit training around parenting and a full time job. Working with my coach over the last nine months I’ve focused on doing the right things daily, which has been steadily building over time.

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Often there were moments during the nine months (that’s not a pregnancy reference either!!) that I felt that I wasn’t progressing, and I had a few setbacks. Whilst I PB’d in the Chicago marathon, the time was slower than what my coach and I had set. I was really disappointed but I stuck with the programme as I knew I was capable of running quicker, even though at the time there was no evidence of it in my race or training results.

It sounds obvious in hindsight, but the fact is running fast takes time, with focused sessions and consistent time on your feet. It’s only now that I’m starting to see the benefits of the Chicago Marathon training in this block of training. But if I quit after Chicago, I wouldn’t had reaped the benefits.

It’s still early days and I’m by no way getting carried away with recent results, I’ll keep working and see where this running journey takes me.

So moving onto the Winter Series 10k which was on behalf of Cancer Research U.K. and was also held on 4 February which is also World Cancer Day.

This is a popular race with many participants, it was very well put together and you had the privilege of passing lots of sites in London, topped of with a great medal, a choir, a snow machine and fantastic support from the polar bears etc!! London was partially shut down, and it’s good to have clear roads, just for the runners.

I would definitely run it again, but next time maybe abit slower so I could fully take all the race details on board.

At the start line the race announcer asked the runners to raise their hand as to who running was personally impacted or knew someone impacted by cancer. It seemed as every hand went up.

I was running in memory of my school friend Dilan. He was a real humble, funny, and smart guy who was doing his Doctorate at Cambridge University before he passed. Even towards the end he said that he had no regrets and lived the life he wanted.

Sometimes before I run, during my training I think about how he chose to live a life on his terms, it reminds me that each day is a gift that’s why it’s called the present. It’s a reminder to live consciously, rather than taking life for granted.

Emotions and running fast don’t really go hand in hand as a result I had to mentally go through running the race in the days before the event. Whilst we plan things going right, it’s also important to focus on when things go wrong on the race day, and have a contingency with things do get tough.

There’s a couple of things I focused on to get me through the tough moments, and I’ll share two of them:

The first was remembering historical moments that I had “failed” but had come back to succeed. Which is a way to remind yourself of the strength you already have.

The second contingency plan was thinking about whatever “hardship” I’d experience during the race, was absolutely nothing in comparison to what Dilan or his family and close friends had gone through. So however “difficult” it felt in the race, I had no excuse in comparison.

As the race started, I was aiming for a steady 6:24 min per mile pace to achieve a sub 40min 10k. Despite my contingencies the race didn’t go to plan.

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The race is very popular with approx. 16k runners, I didn’t start at the front and my miles weren’t consistent my first mile was 7:09 and that was with a lot of ducking and weaving, which wasted energy and isn’t something you do or is easy to replicate during training. Without looking like your running drunk!

I was way off my target pace, momentarily the thoughts of not achieving my sub 40min target became real. During that moment your thoughts are racing (no pun intended) on a congested course your trying to stay in moment but trying to work out the pace you need to run to achieve my race goal.

After the first mile, I thought what’s happened is disappointing but it’s in the past. Now go and do your best and put one foot in front of the other. I stopped focusing on the outcome and focused on running the strongest mile that I was in, and then to build on that momentum.

Now I’d like to say it was easy sailing to the end, but it wasn’t whilst I ran my next miles approx. 6:16 and 6:18, then I hit 6:55 in mile 4… which was due to dodging and weaving through the crowded course. It was another obstacle and further doubts added to the previous ones!

I had to forget my first four miles and the plan I had made, and keep moving forward.

Ultimately I didn’t want the first half of the race to define me, the thing about racing is, the clock doesn’t stop when you have moments that don’t go to plan, I had to compartmentalise those moments in the past. But my driving force was despite what had happened, I didn’t want to leave the last two miles with any regrets.

In the last two miles it felt like Dilan was running with me in spirit pushing me, and the last two miles I ran approx. 6:05 and 5:58 miles, which in retrospect is hard to explain as I’ve not run those times during recent training runs.

When I crossed the line I didn’t really have time to process things, as I was catching up with a few running friends, taking photos and releasing how cold it was, when your in shorts and a t-shirt in 2°C!! The cold hit me like a repeated slap in the face!

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It wasn’t until the race was done and I got on the train home, saw my PB time online, that I had the space to process what just happened and express it without judgement.

Firstly I thought of Dilan’s passing, his funeral, the eulogies, and with some tears thought directly about the feelings that this had prompted up to that point in time.

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I thought of how the race didn’t go to plan, and remembered past race results that hadn’t gone to plan. But today was different. I’m grateful that when I started running, that I didn’t start out as a quick runner, I’m grateful for the downs as it makes me appreciate the ups and to value the entire running journey.

I’m grateful that despite the bad start, that I didn’t quit, and it emphasised the lesson it’s not how you start that matters, it’s about how I finished to earn the PB.

For the winter series 10K my positional stats are as follows:

Overall: 148 of 16449

Male: 142 of 6313

30-34 male: 27 of 1012

Time: 39:20

To conclude when I ran my first 10k years ago I didn’t believe that I was a runner, I spent years not believing this and got the results that replicated my beliefs.

But when I started believing that I was a runner, and stoped focusing on everyone else, and put the right effort into my training I ended up starting to see results.

Wherever my journey goes, as long as I do the best that I can with the time that I have I can never be disappointed.

Next race…Boston Marathon

Thank you’s:

  • ASICS for the kit and the shoes. For me in training I wear the nimbus and in races I go for the DS trainer.
  • Thanks to Suunto for helping me track my runs using the Spartan Sport Wrist HR with a HR belt.
  • Thanks to Troin:z for the Colantotte Loop Crest Premium magnetic therapy bracelet. It’s an alternative therapy but I feel that it’s helping, feel less much less achy generally.
  • Thanks to SPIBelt for the endurance belt.
  • Thanks to Science in Sport for supporting my nutritional needs. In this race I opted for a caffeine shot, a caffeine gel and the Rego plus recovery shake post race.
  •  Thanks to Enertor for the custom insoles for my shoes!
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2 comments

  1. Brilliant running Marcus, well done! It’s great that your efforts are starting to pay off. And I really like your reflections on it’s those actions, on a daily basis, that lead to positive outcomes.

    Liked by 1 person

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