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London Marathon Load Up – Week 1 of 12

London marathon approaches, so Russell Bentley lets us in on his load up – week 1 of 12

The training gets done. Or it doesn’t…

On Tuesday Nina called me whilst on her way to work. The car was overheating. Lights were flashing, sirens were wailing. This was inconvenient for both of us. She had to get to work. I had to go to training. It is very hard to get around using public transport here. I would not have time to pick up the kids from school and then get two buses to track. It was El Classico, an important session (read why here), so I didn’t want to miss it. Nina rented an electric vehicle for the day and with a bit of juggling and running around, I made it to the track on time.London Marathon Load Up - Week 1 of 12 2

Sometimes cars break down, or you have to work late, and there is nothing you can do. Life happens.

But your legs and lungs don’t care what your excuses are. They get trained, or they don’t.

It’s a black-and-white issue. The race results are literally black and white in front of you. There’s no comment box for you to list all the totally legitimate reasons why you missed training sessions.

Don’t roll over too easily.

He who knows the “why”… will be able to bear almost any “how”.

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Thinking about which very profound quotes to include in my blog

London Marathon Week 1 of 12

School Sports Day – Dads Race

Day 1, Week 1 of my build-up to London Marathon, I was sitting on the grass with Nina, under the midday sun, happily watching our kids perform in Mabolgampau (sports day). I have never attended as a parent before. They both did very well, and could go far in bean bag racing.

An announcement was made that I didn’t understand, and Nina jumped up and walked down to the field. She lined up in the Mums race and did exceptionally well, finishing 2nd. Then, the final race of the day was called, the Dads Race. I had totally forgotten this was a thing. I was called over by some of the other dads. My kids started chanting for me to race. I did the bravest thing I could do in that situation. I sat there quietly with my head down and refused to budge.

Family Humiliation

At the dinner table that night, I got absolutely crucified by my family. I tried to explain to them that I had run 10 miles that morning, and had run 22 miles the day before. I was dehydrated, not warmed up and there was a high chance of me pulling something. It fell on deaf ears. They didn’t understand. Maybe you don’t either. I have to be OK with that. It doesn’t need to make any sense to anyone but me.

That night El lost a tooth and in the morning the Tooth Fairy had come, and Sports Day was completely forgotten, and I went to my track session that evening without a calf strain.

Podium Distance Project 10k

Our car was still kinda broke. On a hot day, I took the 2.5hr drive to Burnley for a 10k race. The fan was not kicking in, so I had to have the heating on full-blast with windows wide open down the motorway. I arrived feeling pretty wiped but had time for a little nap. I had front-loaded my week with miles so I could have an easier few days before this race. As I warmed up on a canal towpath, I felt like it might have worked, quite springy legs.

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As the race started I quickly settled in with a group. My A goal was 31min flat, which is 3.06 per km. The first km clicked by on my watch, 3.01. Wow! It didn’t feel that fast. We settled a bit over the next few kms, but were still comfortably under my goal pace. A few things seemed off, the guys around me didn’t look like they were running sub 31min pace, and I was feeling too easy. I didn’t worry. Maybe I was just having a good day. My watch clocked my first 5k at 15.20, a brilliant start. Then, further down the road, an official called out our actual 5k time, 15.50. Ouch! It felt like the official had just punched me in the guts.

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The GPS Lies!

The race loop is only 1km long and it winds around a bit, which is difficult for GPS to track accurately. My watch had been doing a Boris Johnson (flagrantly lying to my face). There had been no km markers before the halfway point, but still, I am experienced enough to know better. I swore at myself for a few minutes and my pace dropped. I felt so sorry for myself. Suddenly, I had gone from smashing my A goal, to being unable to get anywhere near it.

But I had driven all this way in a sauna car, the conditions were good, the course was fast, there was nothing wrong with me, and I would not get another opportunity to race 10k for months. So what now? Luckily, something inside decided to have a crack anyway. I picked up the pace and dropped the group I was in. Halfway through the final lap, I caught up with a runner, just as my Bojo watch confidently stated I had run 10k in 30.47, I laughed to myself and kicked past the runner, crossing the finish line in 31.29. My fastest 10k in 4 years.

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I stopped by at Chester services on the way home. As I googled my official results, trying to suck a Macshake out of a paper straw, I felt very proud of myself. Whether the race goes well or badly, you can only control how you respond. If I had dropped out or lost my head at halfway, it reinforces bad habits (I have been down this hole, and it’s not easy to get out of). But, If you can say to yourself; I tried my best when the going got tough, then you are more likely to respond positively next time.

It’s also a good idea to set more than a single goal for any race. My A goal was 31min flat. My B goal was to run faster than my last 10k, which was 32.15. Nailed that fucker.

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Russell Bentley
Russell Bentley
Track runner. Trained in Kenya, Won the Snowdonia Marathon 2018, PB Berlin Marathon 2:20:20

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