The emotional tumble-dryer of running: The end of my Virgin London Marathon 2016

I’m emotionally spent. This weekend has pulled me through the mire, chewed me up, and spat me back out again the other side. I’m still feeling dizzy from the rollercoaster ride. Here’s why:

Virgin London Marathon 2016

It’s been on the cards ever since Dubai marathon (lets put things into perspective, that was still only 7 weeks ago – although it feels like a lifetime) – Do I race VLM 2016, or is it just one marathon too far?

Straight after Dubai, I confidently announced: “I can do it Gav – I know I can. I can recover, and pick my training back up in time to do London. I’ve got 12 weeks, and I’m still up for it. Honestly, I’ll even have a full 3 days off running after Dubai. NO RUNNING AT ALL! Surely THAT shows my level of commitment to running London. I’m still in.”

And as sure as eggs is eggs, I WAS still committed to running London. Fully committed. I willed my body to be with me on this: I needed it to be with me.

If truth be told, it was a long shot. The number of races I’ve done over the past couple of years – including:


2 x full marathons (Virgin London Marathon 3:22; Yorkshire Marathon PB 3:16)

1 x 20 miler: Trimpell (PB 2:29)

8 x half marathons: Silverstone, Liverpool, Trailblazer Clumber Park, Cross Bay, Run Wales Hilly Half, Robin Hood Half, Worksop,

4 x 10 milers: Snake lane, Bluebell, Marsden, Eccup

6 x 10ks: Meltham, Sowerby Scorcher, Downhill 10k, Spen Greenway, Abbey Dash, Barnsley,

Other races: Calderdale Way Relay, Goole Riverbank Challenge, Full Bronte, Joe Percy, Bank of England Inter Financial Services Cross Country, Travellers 6; Littlebrough 5k series, John Carr 5k series, Parkruns


1 x full marathon: Virgin London Marathon (3:17)

1 x 20 miler: Trimpell,

5 x half marathons: Village Bakery Half, Haweswater, Edinburgh (PB 1:30), Halifax half, Worksop,

4 x 10 milers: Ripon, Marsden, Yorkshire 10 mile, Guy Fawkes,

3 x 10ks: Dewsbury, Sowerby Scorcher, Abbey Dash,

Other races: Dentdale 14 miler; Boxing Day 2 x local 5k races; VO2 Fitness Test at Loughbrough; Goole Riverbank Challenge (1st female), John Carr 5k series, Kilburn Feast 7, James Herriot Trail Race (an unmitigated disaster), 1 week altitude training in Font Romeu, Parkruns.

… Not to mention the ‘regular training’ in between races.

So, I am spent. It’s as simple as that. I’ve felt it in my legs, in my form and – even worse – systemically. It’s as if my entire being is, quite literally ‘run out’ – it’s had enough. I’ve looked into ‘overtraining syndrome’ and that’s basically where I’m at.



My level of absolute denial being what it is, I’ve tried to ignore the signs, and work through it, ‘listen to my body’ (only half-arsed if truth be told), eat right, sleep well, minimise stress, and a million other things in order to turn this around. We did the Village Bakery half marathon just 3 weeks after Dubai, and I felt it then. My time down 6 minutes on last year’s race – from 1:31 to 1:37. I rationalised that it was too soon after Dubai, which it was. And yet, I STILL believed I could recover and spring back into form.

Not content with ignoring all the other signs, I’ve also suffered from a full week of the flu. Proper, full mashings. Missing work, unable to get out of bed. Feeling as poorly as I have for a long, long time. And STILL I didn’t get it.

Yesterday morning was the final test: I hoped to run 15 miles from Tilly’s gymnastics class. If all went well, I would still be up for Trimpell 20 – my annual pre-VLM pacing race – next Sunday. I set off, and I knew. Each step was a laborious, pained effort. In truth, I just didn’t want to run another bloody step. Not one. I eked out 4 miles, and from underneath a bridge along a silent canal, I sent Gav a text. It said: “I’m out of both Trimpell and London Gav. It’s over. I can’t do it.” That was shortly followed by another message, which simply read: “I’m gutted.”

I was. I am.

My hopes for running London this year are over. Of course I know why – and I know what I need to do to get over this and return to form: TRAIN SMARTER, NOT HARDER.

It’s easier said than done, believe me. Wish me luck – I may require an entire personality transplant in the process…


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