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Friday, 15 April 2011

Virgin London Marathon - It's a Long Journey

The ENS blog has provided many tips and thoughts from professional sportsmen recently but with the Virgin London Marathon happening this weekend, we thought we would ask an inexperienced runner about his race prep. James Clayton, brother of Rachel, one of our Account Managers, gave us an insight into the last 6 months…

“Like the other 40,000 people who signed up to do the race, you have visions of crossing the line with an overwhelming sense of pride and satisfaction but a huge amount of unavoidable work is needed to even come close to that point.

It would be foolish to run the marathon without a good six months of training behind you meaning the majority of your training is completed over the winter. The dark and cold really can dampen any initial enthusiasm - it takes a huge amount of will power to wake up especially early in December in order to do a 5 mile run before work. The alternative is to go after work in the same conditions; some would say it’s the lesser of two evils but I’m not sure which one that is.

With the arrival of the New Year I thought things would get easier; I envisaged a morning run with the sun rising or an evening run with the sun setting reigniting my enthusiasm but that joy was nullified by the realization that I had to start increasing the number of miles I was running and fast.

As I began to increase my distances above five miles my body inevitably started to hurt. I was constantly exhausted and as the race drew nearer, it was simply a case of ticking off the days. I don’t think I realized just how time consuming it would be and how much it would affect my life. It is not just the time spent running, my whole social life was dictated by training, diet, alcohol consumption and the knowledge that I had to be up early the next morning to go running. On top of which I had to take into account the time required for stretching and post-run nutrition, if I neglected these things, I (and my physio) knew that my body would pay the price.

The main thing that I have learned is not to underestimate how damn hard it is. Eating correctly, keeping well hydrated and stretching helps enormously and investing in a good pair of running shoes is not negotiable. Do it, your feet, ankles and knees will be forever grateful. The other tip I was given and would pass on is to run every run as if it is the real thing, it is pointless to waste a session by not giving it your best. Finally, when you reach February in your training schedule run in the morning – the race begins early so get your body used to being at its optimum at this time.

There have been many occasions when I have queried the decision to run. I am going to the Manchester FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley on Saturday. As an avid City supporter I am desperate for them to make the final and if they do, my friends and family will be toasting a first Cup Final appearance since 1981 whilst I go home and prepare for the race.

The promise of the sense of achievement has kept me going although the ‘fringe benefits’ are that my fitness, health and wellbeing has improved. I suppose the question everyone, including myself, wants to know the answer to is ‘was it worth it?’ I will let you know on Sunday evening!”

James is running on behalf of Vision Aid Overseas (www.vao.org.uk) who send professional volunteers to the poorest countries in the world and help bring sight to some of the millions of people who are affected by poor vision. To sponsor James visit his Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/James-Clayton-Marathon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That bloke sounds like an inspiration to millions....I hope I can grow up to be just a fraction of the man he is!!