Danny’s Marathon Story: Just the Beginning

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About the Author: Danny Oliver is the UK Country Manager for Life Fitness who has always relished a tough challenge. Danny shares details of his 2019 marathon fitness challenge and his incredible journey to it.

I’ve always liked to set myself very challenging personal fitness goals. Something to focus on away from work. A real tough challenge that will test my resilience and determination. The specific nature of the test has varied over the years – and has included running the London Marathon, obstacle races like Tough Mudder, attempting triathlons – and even competing in boxing and MMA bouts. Without a doubt the toughest physical and mental challenge to date has been the marathon.

Finishing a marathon is a significant mental and physical achievement – regardless of the time taken. Indeed, I am in awe of every single person that commits themselves to the training. You cannot watch the London Marathon on TV and not be inspired by the thousands of people enduring blood, sweat, and tears in order to cover the 26.2 miles.

Heading into 2019 I didn’t really have a challenge in front of me – but I needed one. I made the decision to enter the Abingdon Marathon in October 2019. I opted for Abingdon for two reasons. Firstly – its flat! Secondly, it meant that I would have 10 clear months to focus my energies on developing the specific fitness required to successfully run the marathon.

Having determined that it was to be the Abingdon Marathon, the next thing to do was to establish a target time. Something audacious. Something that I could anchor myself against when the training programme got tough. I spoke at length with a good friend (who also knows a thing or two about distance running). We agreed that 3hrs 15 mins would be a genuine challenge. We agreed that I would have to be meticulous in following the training programme in order to complete the distance in this time. I’d have to commit to the training, to sleeping, recovering, to meticulous meal planning. This was an “all in scenario”. Fail to prepare, then I’d have to prepare to fail.

I spent Jan – April this year getting myself back out there running. Spending an ever-increasing amount of time on the roads gradually building up the distance. Slowly getting used to the physical and mental demands of distance running again.

On the 13th May things got serious. Reality well and truly kicked in. I embarked on a 20+ week highly personalised marathon training schedule. 3 weeks in – and it already hurts! Both the mileage and the intensity have gone up a notch. Things have gotten very real. I have to train 6 days a week – and I know precisely what is required for each of those sessions. It’s all mapped out. If I can follow the plan and execute – then 3hrs 15 mins is feasible. If I take short cuts – then I will fall short. Simple as that.

For sure, I’ll embrace the challenge head on and see where it takes me. Sure, there will be bumps along the way – these things never run to plan. It strikes me that the tools required to achieve this personal fitness goal are identical to the tools that help me be effective at work. There are so many parallels. To run the 3:15 I’ll have to be meticulous in my planning, I’ll have to pay attention to the details – and control the controllable. The plan won’t run exactly as expected, adjustments will be required – but I’ll have to stay absolutely focused and committed to the long-term goal.

Danny Oliver
Dannys marathon story
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