Tuesday, 22 January 2013

I'll pace YOUR race!

Excellent news! As I’ve been hinting rather explicitly for some time, I am delighted to say that I’m currently training for the Virgin London Marathon, which I will be running as part of Runner’s World’s pacing team. This means I will totally relinquish all interest in my own racing, and will instead be aiming to run at exactly 10 minutes per mile, wearing some sort of cumbersome marker to signify the same, and finish in exactly 4:22. The idea is that anyone looking to run at that pace or finish in that time will look for me and use my position as a benchmark for their own pace. Simples.

Now running a marathon in around 4:20ish shouldn’t be a problem from a sporting/challenge point of view. As you know, I’ve topped out at 3:49 and barring a small hernia-related hiccup, can usually be found completing 26.2 miles in around about 4 hours (there, there and there). Trying to run a marathon in precisely 4 hours and 22 minutes, however, is a different story.

Imagine the scope of this challenge. Every single mile has to be perfect, completed in bang-on 10 minutes. This means I will have to constantly adjust my effort to account for inclines, corners, wind, congestion of other runners and probably plenty of other factors I haven’t even considered, just to iron out crinkles in my pace that would otherwise characterise a ‘normal’ race. My pace will have to be metronomic, even if all around me are runners speeding up and slowing down as they find their natural rhythms. If I run a mile 30 seconds too fast or too slowly, I will have to adjust for that over subsequent miles. I will have to become a marathon running machine equipped with some pretty snazzy maths skills.

It’s a bit daunting, now I think about it.

But it’s also incredibly exciting. Not only do I get the privilege of running the Virgin London Marathon, probably the most iconic of all iconic sporting events in this country, but I get to run it in a unique and fascinating context. My assigned pace and finish time are likely to attract a large number of first-timers, which means I get the further privilege of meeting, chatting to and supporting scores of beginners to achieve success. I get to be part of the Runner’s World team, running the VLM in a network of the most prominent people in British distance running. What an incredible opportunity.

My training for this will be simple: a holistic marathon build-up in which every long run is done at 10 minute:miles, which should also produce a hearty base from which to plan for The Wall Run, my first ultra which is scheduled for June (more anon.).

I am ludicrously excited.

Happy running


2013 to date: miles run - 64.03, parkruns: 1, miles biked: 3

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