Things I have learned about running from the London Marathon

1.    Optimism is great but reality will get you in the end
          No matter how much I tried to convince myself that a torn hamstring three weeks before the event need not prevent me from running fast, the reality was that it stopped me running fast for 26 miles.

2.       The crowds are special
I have done a lot of races of distances from 5km to marathon but nothing – no matter how much people told me – prepared me for the roar of noise and the overwhelming positivity from the VLM crowd.  Cheers, posters, high fives all helped get me round. My favourite was a sign held aloft in Embankment which read simply ‘Motivational Sign’.

3.       Water bottles are lethal
I was staggered by the number of numpties who chose to simply drop a water bottle at their feet, leaving it to trip a fellow runner. I was one of those fellow runners and it ended my hopes of a moderately fast run. I was even more staggered by those who thought the best alternative was to launch water bottles – some of which were 90 per cent full – over the heads of runners. Of course it meant they avoided tripping fellow marathoners but the bottles became vicious missiles to the crowds of spectators. 

4.       Egos should be left at the start line
Nothing will prepare you for being overtaken by a runner in a large fancy dress costume. It is a peculiar kind of damage to your self-image.

5.       Mental toughness isn’t everything
No matter how I willed myself to run faster, I couldn’t overcome the cramp in my hamstrings, the pain in my foot or the tightness in my leg. Taming the chimp is all very well but the body has a say too.

6.       Marathoner’s mirages are real
You can imagine the strangest things. As my mate Nathan  pulled away from me at mile 15 he looked like a young Haile Gebrselassie, gliding away like a gazelle. In fact Nathan more closely resembles the experimental progeny of The Thing and She-Hulk. It is a highly effective running style though and he gave me a proper spanking.

7.       Training pain soon forgotten
I swore off marathons forever in March, inspiring this breakup letter. Within seconds of finishing I had decided to claim my Good For Age spot in 2017 and break that 3hr mark.

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