The London Marathon as told by Dan Hull

London_DannyThis Spring we saw a number of Waverley Harriers take part in Spring marathons and saw some amazing times set and many new PB’s. We thought it would be great to share a few of these stories starting with Dan Hull who achieved a fantastic time in London. Here is his story:

London Marathon 2015 Dan Hull

In 2010 I was sat in a pub in Dublin drinking a pint of Guinness telling friends that I would never run another marathon again, so what happened? What made me change my mind? In April of this year I ran the London Marathon for charity, and I have been told in a reasonable time too.

It just happened that I was in London on the day of the London Marathon 2013, I had been out with some friends the previous night and we watched some of the marathon from Embankment. I was amazed by the determination of the runners and the support people were getting from the crowd. One person in particular inspired me to attempt the distance again, Richard Whitehead a double leg amputee who ran the marathon in 3 h 15 min. I have great admiration for anybody who can go the distance but this man was special. So in May 2014 I claimed a charity place running for the Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity Fund and started training.

I had previously ran quite a few half-marathons and enjoyed trail and cross-country running so I had the base fitness needed to start but nothing prepared me for the six months of training I endured. Some people that run a marathon have a time they want to achieve and some just want to finish. I had a time of 2 h 40mins which at the start of the training I thought was achievable based on previous 10k and half marathon times. However towards the month of January this time became less important to me and I became more aware of just enjoying running and relaxing while training.

I had spoken to various people about marathon training plans and after consideration of how I could fit the running into my life I decided to choose the Hanson Marathon Method. This plan focuses on cumulative fatigue to prepare runners for the last 10 miles of the marathon. There were quite a few tempo sessions (marathon pace) to fit in which I could do when I ran to work (7.5miles) and back. I also included track session organised by Waverley Harriers on a Tuesday evening. I gradually built up the mileage and included long runs at the weekend peaking at 80 miles a week. I did dip the mileage a bit with the inclusion of the cross-country season in the Southern Cross Country League, however this helped me recover from the high mileage weeks and I honestly believe that this benefited my marathon training. As the weeks and months went on my diet changed dramatically and I was viewing food as sources of protein and carbohydrates rather than what they tasted like. Although I was quite strict with my diet my theory of pre-race alcohol carb loading seemed to work after a last moment entry to the Surrey Half, I ran a PB. Not something that I would recommend unless it has been peer reviewed first.

So Christmas came and went and the cold mornings started to gradually warm and I had some pre-London races to run. The first was the Weymouth Half, a lovely course on the seafront and over to Portland and the national sailing academy. The second was a local race, the Spitfire 20. Everything seemed to be on track with to PB’s in both distances. I had been lucky enough to remain injury free with my training and I did realise in the last month of training that there is only so much cumulative training your body can take. I was feeling exhausted after the Spitfire 20 and longing for the taper for the London Marathon. This consisted of reducing my mileage over a three week period and the intensity of it 10 days before the final day. In the final week I was not a pleasure to be around, the lack of running made me agitated. My endorphin hits had been taken away from me and I wanted them back.

On race day I was ready, I had been placed in pen one in the red section just behind the good for age runners. The gun sounded and the race had started, it took me 1 and a half minutes to cross the start line and I was off. I kept on telling myself to start slowly and build the pace up but at mile one I made the fastet pit stop in a portaloo ever, in I went and out I sprang!

The course for the London marathon is fantastic and for all those who say the crowd push you on I would agree. They were absolutely fantastic and make the London Marathon what it is. By the 13 mile marker I was running well and saw family and friends who had come down to support me. I knew what was coming though; the last time I ran a marathon it hit me at mile 16.The stiff quads, the pain! This time though it was not that bad at mile 17 I felt the pace starting to drop so I tried to relax myself to pick things up. It worked and at mile 21 I saw friends and family again which helped me to just enjoy everything and soak up the atmosphere. Towards the end I knew that I would achieve my target and finished the marathon in 2 hours 40 mins. In the end the time was immaterial, I had completed the London Marathon and I was knackered!

The London Marathon not only gives runners a great sense of achievement but also provides charities with essential funds. I was astonished by the kindness shown by people by donating just over £3000 for the Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity Fund. One final thought, I’m never going to run 20 miles on a treadmill ever again even if it is for charity!

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