Sunday, 5 February 2012

We need to talk about Brighton

Yesterday I went to a marathon workshop organised by England Athletics. It was advertised as for coaches and athletes. I wasn't sure I qualified as either, so I emailed the organiser. He said it was open to everyone. Even me.

It could not have come at a better time. In the past 10 days, I've been out for one four-mile run. My shin splints cleared up, only to be replaced with an old hamstring injury. Suffice to say, I've been feeling worse and worse as each day passes and my trainers sit at home.

And so it was in this mindset of fear and paralysis that I made my way to Twickenham yesterday. The workshop was at St Mary's College, which, incidentally, has the most amazing sports facilities and offers all sorts of stuff like lactate testing. I might get myself tested...

Anyway, I digress, the workshop was predominantly a question and answer session. Firstly with Eamonn Martin who, in 1993, was the last British man to win the London marathon. And then with Scott Overall, who was the first person to secure a GB marathon place in this year's Olympics.

They had distinctly different styles. Of presenting and running. Eamonn extolled the virtues of stretching every day, even when not running. He enjoyed doing proper races in the run-up to his marathon and showed us a powerpoint of his training week up to the big day. He clearly loves running and his enthusiasm was infectious.

And then came Scott. I think he is possibly the most laid-back man in the world. In fact, at one point I genuinely thought he was going to fall backwards off his chair. I can't tell you a great deal about his training schedule, I think he said he runs about three times a week. And he's off to do some altitude training at Flagstaff, Arizona before the Olympic games. Maybe that could work for me? Though I don't have time to go abroad before Brighton so the highest point of Hampstead Heath will have to do.

Quite seriously, though. Yesterday's workshop was fascinating. Eamonn Martin reassured me that there is still plenty of time to get marathon-fit - as long as you put in the miles. And Scott Overall made the whole thing seem so incredibly achievable I became vicariously imbued with his confidence.

Interestingly Scott qualified for the Olympics with a time of 2 hours 10 minutes 55 seconds. On his debut marathon performance. His very first one. Like me at Brighton. Think on.

(Due to snow, these are gym-based running machine stats: 5.28 miles; 52 minutes; 9.50 minute/mile.)

(Pics: Eamonn on the plinth; Scott on the chair.)

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