Posted on: 14 Jan 2014

I have really enjoyed reading some of your posts recently. As the calendar flipped to 2014 London , Paris , Brighton and the other spring marathons suddenly came into sharper focus.
Christmas and new year are behind us and the countdown really begins.
After I read Vins post late last night it really got me thinking. I ran in London last year but am not doing it or a spring marathon this year so I feel I can be a little more objective , I'm reading all your blogs from a different perspective ; that of a supporter and friend rather than fellow runner.
I can see how much hard work and preparation goes into the marathon build up to make sure that each of you get to that start line in April in the best possible shape. Hundreds of hard miles have been run , the dark ones, the lonely ones, the early ones, the late at night ones,the cold and wet ones, the ones when you pushed yourself so hard you were sick, dizzy and spent. Let's not forget the joyous runs when the sun shone, breathing easy, legs flowing and it felt natural and almost effortless. Many sacrifices made along the way too, the marathon becomes the goal and things that get in the way of that have to move aside for a while. Money spent, the right shoes, socks, watch. Funds raised for charities. Details scrutinised, gels, hydration, pace, the right breakfast, the right shorts , shoes double laced. Nothing left to chance, controllables controlled. Accommodation booked, travel arranged. Friends and family right behind you.
And then it's just you and the distance.

The single most important thing that I learned about myself ( and the marathon ) last year was belief. You can do all of the things above and more but if you don't believe in yourself then you may well fall short of your target or not realise your potential. I worked really hard for London last year because I badly wanted to beat the 3.33 target but I remember travelling to the start still believing it was out of my reach. I had done the hard work in the months before but there was a missing piece of the marathon jigsaw. I didn't back myself fully, I held a kind of half belief a certain optimism but it wasn't enough.

Missing my target in London by less than a minute was a hard lesson. The York marathon was duly booked and the process started again. This time I took a different approach, I didn't want a repeat of my London experience. I concentrated on getting faster, my training was based on less miles but higher intensity. Interval and tempo runs in the week and a long weekend run with a decent portion of it at my goal marathon pace. I started to see and feel the benefits, my mile times started to drop below 8 minutes on the long runs and it began to feel natural, like I was in charge. As the pace got better and the indurance grew confidence began to build. During one 18 mile Sunday run I actually felt that my goal was really possible, I had belief for the first time. Of course I didn't externalise this belief, I don't think that I even mentioned it in a blog before the marathon but I had it and it was important and empowering.

I don't really know what the difference was from London to York, probably not just one specific thing.The training was more effective although I ran over 100 miles more training for London. Weather conditions on the day were good, I was injury free and I had Alaistair and Ali to run with which was a massive boost too. But I think the most important thing was when I woke up that day I really believed that I could run sub 3.33 and I just had to go and do it. May I say that I know that all of you told me that I could do it and was going to do it which really helped but ultimately you have to believe it yourself.

So whatever your target - running a PB or simply completing the marathon , if you have true focus on that goal and put in the honest hard work to reach it then try to replace doubt with belief. There's 13 weeks to grow that belief, look after it and take it to the start line, I want to be there to witness it all in action. Keep up the great work and believe !


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