Health & Lifestyle, Running Events

First time Maranoia.


You (yes, you) are running London Marathon

Tom Scott Road Races © Bobby Gavin

Tom Scott Road Races © Bobby Gavin

So let me set the scene. It’s 2016 and I’ve got my first sub 18 minute 5k since I ended my 20 year sabbatical. I have run track for the first time since I hit the Scottish selector with my spikes in a tantrum in about 1990 (that is indeed another story) and even managed to sneak a county 1500m medal. 2017 was to be a no brainer for me. Cut out the long races. Marathons, half marathons etc. could do one. Even 10ks could jog on. Track and 5ks is what it’s all about. Build up my speed. Find a focus.

It was therefore no surprise that after years of trying I got the “You’re in!” London marathon magazine through the post. You couldn’t make it up.

I have to set my stall out from the start, I had no idea what I was doing. Two weeks from the start and I still have no idea what I’m doing. I tried looking at plans and didn’t actually understand them. “Do a mara pace 80{0a00b7f19cfae603d857fe25d0a6cf6f5825db1f256901fb36653366660d6b73} tempo fartlek at 75{0a00b7f19cfae603d857fe25d0a6cf6f5825db1f256901fb36653366660d6b73} Max HR while singing a selection of Cascada tunes. In mauve”. Oooft and whoosh and way over my head. I tried speaking to people who all told me different things. Confused already. Never going to do it. No idea what I am doing. The early stages of maranoia kicking in.

I fell upon a running training program thanks to Bellahouston Roadrunner’s Henry, who gave me a copy of his plan from last year that I had a play about with. I was happy to steal his plan as although he’s a better runner than me, I’m not far off and tend to see his back most of the time. Plus his plan gave him a great time last year. I knew I couldn’t dedicate the same time and mileage but I was planning to bump up my Sunday runs, do a mid-week mid long (see? Jargon already), an efforts session, and as many miles on top of that as I could. So after I got over my winter injury and its chocolate belly partner, I hit January running, kicking off my training well.

I managed to string together some good weeks, along with a couple of zero mile ones as my work got busier than a Sauchiehall Street chippy on a Saturday night. I managed to run longer, 14 miles, 16, 18 then a 20 at a rapid pace along the canal with a couple of folk too quick for me. I had the disaster runs where I could hardly string an 8.30 mile together in the rain, stopping and starting and crying in the worst 21 miler in history. But I found another side of me. I hit 50-60 mile weeks a couple of times. I managed 5,6 session weeks. I destroyed my PBs at 10k, 10 mile and half marathon distance and got chased by a ram at the Blackhill transmitter. Somewhere something was going right. But now I’m here at two weeks to go and I have missed my biggest mileage week with few injuries and been niggly since.


I won’t get round now. I’ve not done enough miles. I can’t see where the last miles will come from. I see folk on Strava who have worked harder than me not hitting their marathon targets in Rotterdam and Paris. But now the maranoia is turning to calm as the madness of my taper kicks in. It’s Maranoia v Mantra and Mantra is taking control.

“If you think you’rveste beaten you are, if you think you dare not you don’t.”

I couldn’t do anything now to make myself better anyway, it’s a case of making sure I don’t do anything daft to make myself worse. My pie in the sky time wasn’t realistic then and is even less so now. And it doesn’t matter. I am going to London, with my family, and my boys are excited. I will take in The Running Awards while I am there as somehow I got shortlisted for best blog. (Oh I know. But remember even Darius had a number 1 hit.) I have my Breast Cancer Care vest with my name in neon pink. I have ordered a pink sweatband. I will run across Tower Bridge refusing Denise Lewis’ attempts at an interview (“Sorry dear, I’m busy you know. I’m doing a marathon”). I’ll overtake someone from Towie as they try to take a shortcut and I’ll shout “Pat” in Frank Butcher style if I stop enjoying it. I’ll high five people at the side, I’ll watch my fuelling and I will enjoy it.

Good luck anyone else doing it and if you see me? Cheer me on. Because this is my only ever marathon I’ll ever run (unless I sneak that good for age…. )


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  • Reply John Softley 13th April 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Thanks Mark – another great blog. Good luck in London Marathon, I’m sure you’ll do well.

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