15 Apr

London Marathon - Dream Or Nightmare?

Russell Whittington

Runners all over the UK are getting set for the Virgin London Marathon weekend. One of these is Wigan-exile Russ Whittington who is now living in Glasgow. The recent winner of the Bolton parkrun and a man who thrives on long-distance events is looking forward to the big race ...

I head down to London this weekend to run my 9th consecutive London Marathon. Despite having to train through a very cold winter in Scotland I feel well prepared.

Early on in the training block I did some circuit classes with my club, Bellahouston Roadrunners. These were organised by Oscar Wild and Emma Birnie and were a great way to improve my core fitness in preparation for the heavy training weeks that followed.

My average daily mileage was 8 in January, 9 in February and 10 in March. This meant that I have completed over 900 miles in total from the start of the year which is more than I have done in any other year. The training was split between following Scott Kennedy's training schedule with Bellahouston Roadrunners and Mark Johnston's training schedule which we use in a lunchtime running group in the city centre.

This group is made up of runners from various clubs around the city and is great to be involved with when training in the dark winter nights becomes more treacherous. Two of my fellow lunch time running group - Euan Crumley, running his first marathon for several years and my colleague David Shaw, doing the race for Children 1st.

The long runs in January started at 14 miles and then peaked at 22 miles three weeks before the big day. The last 22 mile run was in Edinburgh with my buddies Colin McGill and Stewart Robertson. At the end of the run we had planned to treat ourselves to fish and chips, but unfortunately the two chip shops we tried were both closed for lunch. In the end we had take away pasta, so there is no getting away from it!

I am looking to better my personal best of 2 :41:41, set at Loch Ness in 2009. The key is to get the pacing strategy right, a fact that every runner knows but few are able to master. Starting at the championship start means that I am among some excellent runners so the danger is that I get caught up in the moment and set off too fast.
This is the first time that I have run London Marathon with a Garmin so I am hoping that will keep me on track. My only previous marathon where I wore a Garmin was in Lake Garda which included some long tunnels in the first few miles. The tunnels caused my watch to lose its signal and subsequently the accuracy of the readings was compromised and I had to revert to good old fashioned guesswork to control my pace.

Despite the fact that I have run London Marathon 8 times before I still suffer from the same anxieties that I always get during the tricky tapering weeks. I got through the heavy bulk of the training injury and illness free and then during my taper weeks I caught a cold. Even though I know that this shouldn't affect my race day it is enough to put an element of doubt into my mind.

Another issue that I usually have in the final few days before the marathon is the anxiety dream! This usually involves me dreaming that I get lost on the way to the marathon and end up getting there late and then have to spend time catching up with the other runners. This dream quite often involves me going the wrong way which is particularly stupid as it is one of the best organised events in the world and thousands of people are lining the route. In the past despite these pre-race jitters I have always thoroughly enjoyed London Marathon. There is always a good crowd down from my club along with several familiar faces from the other Scottish clubs and when the race is over it is great to catch up with my club mates to find out how they got on. Then it's much needed beer and food with the well earned medal around the neck.