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Marathon running: it's all in the mind

Marathon running: it's all in the mind

Chris Williamson

When Chris was asked to work with Andrew Weston for group projects at Leicester School of Architecture (for no other reason than they were next to each other alphabetically) he discovered that their skills  dovetailed perfectly. Their shared ambition made for a perfect business partnership.

I have been asked to write about how my training is going for the London Marathon. The short answer is okay. The real answer is nuanced and complicated.

I ran the Reading Half Marathon last Sunday. The weather was sunny, a bit blustery, but for 10 miles I really enjoyed it. I ran most of the way behind a blind runner and his guide and felt immensely grateful. And quite emotional every time I saw a runner’s T-shirt with a photo of a lost loved one and the reason it inspired them to run. Whenever I turned a corner and my shadow stretched in front of me I felt brilliant. But after 10 miles it wasn’t fun anymore and there are still 3 more long miles to go with a lot of thinking time. Lots to think about too. In my mind I sorted out my retirement plans and lots of work ideas. Even solved the Brexit issues. But that only took me to mile 12. Then more sinister thoughts appear.

13 years ago I ran 4 marathons in 4 months. My reasoning was that the worst part about running a marathon is the training so if I’ve trained for one I might as well do a few. It was great and I enjoyed the experience. But afterwards I had my regular annual health check-up and was referred to a heart specialist. Everything was fine after lots of tests but the issue which had arisen is good to note. And may serve as a caution to everyone who is encouraged to indulge in extreme exercise. The heart is a muscle and like any other it gets bigger if you exercise it. Sometimes one half grows bigger than the other so can pump out faster than it pumps in and this can lead to problems. I think there are many people being encouraged to take part in extreme sports, which we aren’t really designed to do. Running 10k regularly is good for you. Running marathons probably isn’t. We do it because it’s a challenge. But when you know you can do it and have done it before the motivation is hard. Similarly it’s hard to win the Football Premiership twice in a row. Unless you are Alex Ferguson. You only have to step off the effort by 5 or 10% and any other team will beat you.  It’s why Roger Federer is so amazing. To have that desire week after week, year after year to try to be the best. Me I was just wanting to finish.

So after solving Brexit and retirement and still running past the 12 mile marker that’s quite a thing to think about. The finish line of the Reading Half Marathon is in the football stadium. It’s a wonderful venue to finish, but the thought of it as the halfway point filled me with horror. I’m hoping it’s all in the mind and I have just under 40 days to train for running twice that distance. I know I can do it if I can manage what is going on in my brain to take away the pain which is going on in my legs.

So. How’s my training going? The short answer is okay. 

Chris Williamson

When Chris was asked to work with Andrew Weston for group projects at Leicester School of Architecture (for no other reason than they were next to each other alphabetically) he discovered that their skills  dovetailed perfectly. Their shared ambition made for a perfect business partnership.

Related Thoughts

How can we help?

Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about us and how we work with our clients, consultants and colleagues.