Interview with Marcus

I met Marcus AKA Marathon Marcus back in April down at ashmei HQ during the ambassador selection day. I had a chat with him during the run and he is a really nice guy. He's ran 11 marathons and his goal is to run the six world major marathons, Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. He has completed 2 of the six so far and is aiming to run 4 marathon this year.

What struck me about Marcus was how down to earth he was, he just wanted to chat with like minded people and enjoy the experience. He is a top fella. Check out his blog and social media channels at the bottom of this interview.  

Marathon Marcus running trails

1. How did you get into running and why do you continue to do it?

I was never into long distance running at school or university. I got into running through a bet from a friend to do a 10k, I loved it, I built my confidence up through running additional 10ks, then half marathons before completing my first marathon in 2008. As of the date of this interview, I've gone on to run 11 marathons including, London, Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Edinburgh marathons plus others. 

2. You have a great social media presence, especially on Instagram. If you could accomplish anything via social media what would it be?

Thank you. As time has developed my favourite part of my social media profile, on my blog is the guest interview section were I talk to a wide range of people. 

People for all our differences, can also be so alike especially in sports, in the will to push their boundaries and see what they are capable of. I really enjoy learning about these experiences, because no one ever knows everything. I enjoy talking to regular people who have achieved great things like yourself. I feel this is more personally relatable than talking to a professional athlete. So if I could accomplish something on social media, I hope that these interviews will help other people to be inspired and not place unnecessary limitations on who they are. 

3. If you could meet one celebrity in the athletics world, who would it be and why?

It would be Mo Farah. What he has achieved in distance running is amazing and I'd be fascinated to learn about what makes him tick, so I could learn from him.

4. What does a average week of training look like for you and how did you build up to this?

This year I've taken on the task of running of running 4 marathons. The charity mind state that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. I want to raise awareness of this, I believe that exercise greatly benefits this condition. So far I've ran the Manchester, Richmond Park and Robin Hood Marathons. I have New York coming up.

However Manchester was my optimum performance this year, and the other two I've been beset by a number of injuries, so my training programme hasn't been consistent this year.

In the months leading up to Manchester I'd run between 32-45miles a week. This would be a combination of fast and slow runs. At the moment I'm going through a transition in my training programme, as I was previously doing too many speed sessions which lead to a number of injuries. So I'm in the process of changing this following the New York marathon.

Bar running I focus on cross training, strength and conditioning, and rest days. 

5. You've ran 11 marathons, what was your worst and best races and what did you learn from them?

My 2010 London marathon of 4:55 was my worst. I remember telling people and, them looking at me like I was a joke. I learnt that even though people may criticise you, it doesn't matter what they think. As long as I believed I was capable of breaking 4 hours then that was important.

This year I achieved a PB for 3:35 in the marathon, and 1:37 in the half marathon. I learnt that you have to accept that running slow or fast hurts, it's not this nirvana you arrive at. As I've started to accept this and not fight it, I've found that my times are improving.  

I've also learnt whether you are fast or slow, you are a runner! But it's funny how people referred to me with my 4:55 time in comparison to 3:35. The thing was I wasn't pretending. I did the best I could at that time. But I was always a runner regardless of my speed.

There is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing how I've improved from where I've started, but I know there is still a lot more work to be done to get close to my potential, as my aim is to work towards a BQ.

6. What's your favourite training session and what's the session you dread but you know you must do?

The worst one is the first long run for a marathon. This is because usually at that moment I don't have the endurance during the run and there is a lot of time to think about it! Even though I know it will come, it's a real struggle at that moment.

My favourite are the speed sessions. It's the equivalent of hitting a punch bag on a bad day, I find it's a good stress reliever.

7. What is your favourite pre race meal?

Lasagna, and a cup of green tea.

8. What are your favourite running books?

One of my favourites is Dean Karnazes Ultramarathon Man. It has a cheesy start but, give it time and you see how a regular guy went to achieve some exceptional things in the marathon and ultra marathon disciplines. You see how he progressed from one race to another with such an optimistic attitude. He really taught me that you shouldn't place limits on yourself.

9. In your experience, how important is the link between physical health and mental health

For me both are equally as important. 

What we can see i.e. the physical gets more attention because it's visual. Whereas the mind doesn't always get the same treatment in a positive way.

When we talk about the mind, say we watch the Olympics and the athletes will be praised superficially about their grit, focus, determination, ability to dig deep, will power, the need to win, there are endless cliches upon cliches. 

However I don't feel the negative aspects get talked about. For example I had a bereavement weeks before my last marathon, and that affected my training. Even Mo Farah before his 2012 Olympic final events, his wife was expecting and even she was advised by the team around Mo not to say specifically when the due date was, as not to add to the pressure he must of been feeling going into that final.

The good side of mental fortitude gets lauded in the press, but we don't talk about the other side enough, without making it sound like a weakness. For me admitting to a challenge and facing it isn't a weakness, it only becomes a weakness if you don't face it, and hide it hoping grit etc. will get you out of it.

Things which affect mental performance don't have to be an external events, as I've discussed above, but it most commonly it will be a negative internal dialogue, i.e. The relationship with food, not being thin enough, but being muscular enough, it comes down to the feeling of simply that you are not being good enough. 

Until you are comfortable with what you are and what your not, subconsciously chasing unattainable goals will end badly.

This is the reason why I believe that a healthy body cannot coexist without a healthy mind.

You can follow Marcus here:



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @marathon_marcus

Facebook: Marathon Marcus

Owain Williams

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