As the Virgin Money London Marathon approaches, we hear from Marathon Marcus and how he trained for four marathons in one year.
By 2015 I had run eight marathons, and was getting itchy feet in terms of setting my 2016 races. I wanted a bigger challenge that would test me. Whilst running an ultra marathon didn’t appeal to me at the time, I decided to enter into the 2016 Manchester, Richmond Park, Robin Hood and New York Marathons.
Four was significant as I wanted to highlight that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. My aim was to show everyone that has suffered from mental health problems, to not think you can’t do it and start thinking you can.
I also wanted to demonstrate that running multiple marathons doesn’t need superhero qualities, but it just needed structure, determination, and the need to apply the basics of the right training, nutrition, treatment of any injuries, etc.
If I could do a few things differently it would be this: if you want to run big distances you need to get your biomechanics checked out by a podiatrist or physio before you increase the mileage. As any imbalance that you have will result in injury.
I also learned that running multiple marathons requires time for your body to adapt. The ligaments and muscles et cetera take longer to develop then your cardiovascular system. I rushed the process and as a result I got injured.
Post Manchester I had injuries before all three other marathons. Subsequently I’ve learned about the right strength and conditioning exercises to compensate for my own imbalances. This had a big knock on impact on my training which was inconsistent throughout the year. In the build up to the New York Marathon I had an injury which kept me on the bike for weeks leading up to it.
Training for four marathons was tough physically and mentally, and often it was frustrating managing injury and keeping focus required for the long runs. One of the weirdest moments in training was getting stung by two bees in both legs! It was so surreal, one moment I was running then the next I was doubled over in pain.
Despite the mental and physical toughness of training, my focus of raising awareness for mental health kept me focused and was my why, when the going got tough.
The last Marathon was in New York. Whilst I wasn’t in the best of shape to run a marathon, it was one of my favourite marathon experiences for the fact that it’s a block party across New York but you’re running it. The crowd support and the entertainment was incredible and at times you wish you could stop running and just watch the performances. It was incredible to run through the five boroughs. It was the perfect ending to the four marathon challenge.