The London Marathon is a very important part of my calendar because, even though I haven’t taken part myself, I’ve trained many people for the event and seen the joy on their faces and the medal around their neck at the finish line. So, if you are thinking about it for next year, here's what you'll need to consider.
Marathon training is serious business. After all, it’s an endurance event and you’re going to spend many hours out on the road covering many miles in preparation. This requires a great deal of dedication, time and, if you’re heading for the London event, facing the prospect of some pretty awful British weather. But that’s not all. There are other hazards out there that you need to be ready for during training.
I live and work in rural Essex. That means spending lots of time running on the road where there are no pavements. I’m very careful when it comes to watching for traffic, especially when I’m looking after a client’s safety, too. However, it seems that no amount of reflective or fluorescent apparel is enough to alert some oncoming motorists of my presence. I could be eight feet tall, four feet wide, covered in fairy lights and still not get noticed. It’s even worse if I dare to time my training around school kicking out time. Taking out a few runners is a competitive sport if you’re a female 4x4 driver with a few screaming kids on the back seat.
However, don’t think a pavement is going to be any safer. If I’m thinking about using a pavement that’s occupied by even a few other people, I need to be prepared for them to walk very slowly right in front of me and go suddenly deaf when I politely say, “Excuse me.” As for those bystanders who do notice me, the odd word of encouragement can be nice but there’s only so many times in one run before calls of “Keep going!” or “Is your house on fire?!” go from funny to irritating.
Or rather the stuff that comes out of their bottoms. When I owned a dog, I used to take a small bag out with me so when he had the call of nature I could clean it up, rather than leaving it on the ground. Why, then, is it OK for horse owners to allow their animals to do it anywhere? Have a thought for the weary runner who is struggling to make it through his eighteenth mile, focus and attention starting to suffer, not noticing that large deposit right in front of ... oh, too late.
Don’t underestimate the level of hard work and determination that these men and women go through to get to race day. It’s a big enough challenge to run the 26 miles in the first place but just take a little time to appreciate the many hazards they all had to face along the way.
Paul Mumford is a personal trainer, writer and broadcaster. He owns the Mumford Phys. Ed. training company in Essex. www.mumfordphysed.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Fitness Professionals Ltd or Virtual Magazine. Consult a qualified health or fitness professional before making changes to your diet or exercise.