An estimated 40,000 people gain entry to the Virgin Money London Marathon every year. But only around 36,000 reach the finish line - that’s a 10% dropout for the mathematically challenged among you.
The majority don’t make it to the start-line. Many more set out on the 26.2mile trip, but are forced out on route. The reason? For most it is injury – the curse of runners. Sometimes injury is a result of bad luck - it simply comes with the territory. After all, running is a high-impact, load-bearing exercise which can put a strain on the joints.
But mainly it is due to a flawed training programme. Perhaps overtraining? Poor conditioning? Or even neglecting to recover properly? Whatever the reason, it can be maddening to see the hard work and time invested to go to waste.
There will be around 4,000 poor souls who will fall into this bracket for this year’s London Marathon. I won’t preach on about the do’s and do not’s of injury prevention - except to say seek professional guidance on your rehabilitation. It’s worth it, both in the short-term and long-term.
The worst part of the whole experience is telling people about it. You’ve built up to the race, people have sponsored you, family and friends have encouraged you and here you are not doing the race. You watch thousands of others having one of the greatest days of their life and you are not. But all is not lost.
This is an opportunity to really show what you are made of cowboy. You need to get back on the horse - tempting though it is to tie your steed up and head to the nearest saloon. Once you have an appropriate rehab programme in place, re-set your goals and do not let the mental and physical exertion of the last few months go to complete waste.
You may still have a decent bit of aerobic fitness too which will come in handy. Here’s some ideas for new goals you can set:
You’ve always fancied doing one, so here’s your chance. The marathon wasn’t meant to be – this time. So whilst you re-find your running feet, cross-train by cycling and swimming. You can add running back in when you are ready. Before you know it, you are ready to go for a triathlon.
Hundreds of sports lay claim to be the fastest growing in the UK. Cycling has the strongest claim of all. In recent years scores of sportifs have been launched across the country with short, middle and long distance disciplines. They are excellent enjoyable challenges for all. Without the pressure of aiming for a certain marathon time, it makes a refreshing change of scenery for a runner.
Lower your sights distance-wise and use the mileage you have put in the bank and add some speed into your programme, post-rehab. Alright, you’re marathon ambition didn’t come off this time. But a shiny 10k PB would be a great outcome this year, wouldn’t it?
Injury-permitting, maybe you can run a marathon this year after all? With a recuperation and the lessons learned from your failings first-time round, you might be even better equipped to meet your marathon goal this year after all.
YOUR OWN CHALLENGE
It is particularly dispiriting when you know people have sponsored you to run for a great cause and you haven’t been able to see it through. You don’t have to simply do the same challenge again, there are lots and lots of other options available. There are so many great challenges out there for everyone, from walking Scotland’s West Highland Way to cycling from London to Brighton. Try one.