Marathon Man - Week 1: Credentials and setting the scene

Publication: The Jewish Chronicle
Date: February 23, 2007

Click here to see a screen shot of the published article

Let me present my credentials. I am, or I was, that stereotypical kid who had zero talent in any sport. My report on graduating St. Mary's Primary School simply reads, for Physical Education and Games: "D - lacks co-ordination". (Report writing was easier for teachers in those days). But on moving up to Christ's College (the school sign now reads Pardes House, and the school is even more Jewish than it was) I learned that running could mean for a distance greater than the length of the playground. From that epiphany onwards, I have loved athletics, and I have run the London Marathon four times.  The first time, in 1990 at age 38, I beat the three hour barrier but I learned the hard way what "hitting the Wall" meant.  The most recent time, last year at age 54, I finally conquered the Wall and I ran the second half seven minutes faster than the first half, finishing in 3 hours 38 minutes. Given that, throughout my life, I have never knowingly achieved any position in a short-distance race other than last, I suppose I have made the most of my talents.

Over the long period outlined above, I have learned quite a bit about preparing for, and running, a Marathon. Over the next several weeks leading up to the London Marathon on April 22nd, I would like to pass some ideas your way.  If you are lucky enough to be running it, you will already be inundated with good advice so I will try to bring something a bit different, based on my own experience. I hope that my ideas will also be of interest if you are contemplating a marathon in the future or if you are taking up some other challenge in running.

Let me end this week by listing some key issues in Marathon preparation:

1. How to achieve the essential long training runs

2. How to avoid injury

3. How to respond to injury, if it happens

4. Rehearsals of race day issues such as taking on board energy during the race, and scenarios and strategies for the Wall.

Have a good week. April 22nd will make all that running worthwhile.

Brian Sacks