The last-minute marathon man

Heading over for my fourth London marathon next weekend, I realise that I’m slightly hooked on the races

Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 12:25

Chastened by my previous experience and incapable of running an actual qualifying time (my best would get me in handily if only I were in my 60s), I emailed the press office back before Christmas.

At first they failed to respond and during the weeks that followed I continued along as usual, playing a bit of football and resolving to run a great deal more than I tended to after waking up and seeing the weather outside.

Then, one night in late January, I was surprised to get an email congratulating me on my successful Virgin London entry. By that stage, it didn’t seem entirely the right tone to adopt.

I was kind of chuffed but anxious too that the whole thing would turn into another disaster but having sought and received a fair bit of advice, I threw myself hell for leather into a training programme that has, more than once, felt like it might kill me and, more generally, has left me thoroughly knackered.

Things were compounded early on by the weather.

A morning in early February on Sandymount strand stands out, with me gasping for breath and barely moving, as I headed into a wild headwind while being watched silently by somebody (man or woman, I couldn’t tell they appeared to have so many layers on) pretty much cowering behind some structure or other.

To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed almost every run but dreaded quite a few and the feeling that I had so little scope to skip or miss any weighed heavily on my shoulders at times, especially when it meant getting up at 6am because it was the only way I was going to get out that day. I am not an early morning person.


Back injury
Things were still disrupted, though, by a back injury sustained in a bad fall during a football game I clearly shouldn’t have been playing (like the cliched cop in all those American shows . . . it was to be my very last day).

It kept me out for only a week in the end but I can still feel it on longer runs, including a recent longish mountain race that wiped me out in a way that I was not at all expecting.

Two weeks on from that, I am, I suppose, as ready as I’m going to be. I have done enough miles to be confident of getting around alright but have been cured of my briefly held delusion that I might somehow beat my previous best time. I’d settle for a respectable one now and doing it comfortably enough to genuinely enjoy the experience.

First and foremost, though, I’ll just settle for it happening.

There are still five days to go: plenty of time for plague or pestilence to strike the English southeast.

* Emmet Malone will be running the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 13th next.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.