Marshall Smith’s Running Fever

This is the first time I’ve wrote a blog, so this is a whole new experience for me, but basically I am running-mad.

My name is Marshall and I am 18 years old, having started running at the age of 12 and joining my local athletics club: Ashford AC. Back then, I trained with the juniors group, with no particular favourite event in mind. I’ve always loved sprinting, and used to think I would be the next Usain Bolt after winning all my primary school sports day races, however my love for running miles and miles must have come down to the fact that I never stopped, and still don’t.

After every session, I used to run time trials around the track, ranging from one lap to 3000m. It wasn’t until when I was about 14 years old when Stella Bandu, my current coach, approached me and said that I should start training with them. I was speechless, but couldn’t wait to start. For my first session, I did the typical thing and motored the first couple of reps, but burnt out after that and crawled to the finish line for the remaining. It took me a while to realise what pace-judgement actually was!

Now, I am training seven days a week and even twice a day for some. My lifetime ambition is to go to the Olympics and become an Olympic champion; the event that this will be in is yet to be found. My most recent race was the Brighton Half Marathon, where I finished 12th, which now places me top in the country for under 20 men. Many ask if I will ever run a marathon, which is on my bucket list for sure, but in the long future, as I still feel that I am too young to be training and racing over 26 miles. As for now, I plan to stick to my usual distances, although I am probably edging towards focusing on 5-10km.

As for my next big focus, this will be the Brighton Marathon 10km, which is on the 14th of April (my 19th Birthday). I was fortunate enough to have been given an elite entry, so everything is now geared towards this, as I am to break the 32 minute barrier. A big chunk of my preparation for Brighton has been based around the fields opposite my house. It is the perfect training ground for what I do, as it has allowed me to train hard on a low-impact service and therefore stay injury-free. I always recommend to everyone to try and avoid the tarmac surfaces, and stick to grassland or dirt tracks as much as possible! It takes a while to get used to, but once you run back on the road or the track, you feel like Superman!

Regarding my training, I focus on consistency rather than getting one good week of training in, but burning out and needing a rest the week after. This winter, I’ve worked my way up to 80 mile per week, as seen below:

DayDay Typical winter training week
MondayEasy run with some speedwork at the track
TuesdayTuesday Morning – Grass session
Evening – Recovery run & gym
Wednesday8-9 miles recovery (up to 60 minutes)
ThursdayThursday Morning – Grass session
Evening – Recovery run and strength & conditioning
FridayFriday Recovery run (5 miles on average), or a rest day
SaturdaySaturday – Morning - ‘Marshall workout’ at Parkrun – 30 minutes of hill reps in Singleton, followed by a Parkrun tempo at Ashford Parkrun
Evening – Strength & Conditioning
SundaySunday Long Run with Adam around Westwell and the North Downs on a very hilly route

My training is now beginning to change though, as the summer season is fast approaching. After Brighton, I will be focusing on the track, and therefore my mileage will decrease, but my sessions will be shorter, faster and based on the track.

Also, I would like to use this as a chance to say thank you to my coach, Stella Bandu, as she continues to provide me with an abundance of support! For watching me train and race, to giving me advice and helping me organise my racing diary, I couldn’t thank her enough. Also, it is really rewarding to be fairly well known around the local area for my running, even if I might be nicknamed that ‘crazy running guy’ who is simply running everywhere. The amount of vocal support I get when running around in the parkrun on a Saturday morning and locals who walk their dog around the fields asking how the running is going, it never fails to please and keep me motivated.

Finally, my advice for other runners is to focus on consistency; consistency in your training is essential! As said before, it is far better to run several weeks of 30 miles, rather than one week smashing out 50 miles, and the next only 10 miles because you need to recover. You will benefit far more by running consistently, and of course it helps prevent injury. To accomplish this, I would highly recommend that your training should not be ‘maxed out’, and that you feel you could have run further. You need to be able to back off each week and think that you have trained exceptionally well, but without overdoing it. Another way of being able to run consistently is by including strength and conditioning in your training. Everyone should do this, however little or far you run; it is a key ingredient to success. You don’t have to be lifting weights in the gym, as there are loads of exercises you can do at home whenever you have a few minutes. Calf raises, sit ups, squats, clamshells, push ups, dorsal raises; the list is endless. So there’s my two key ingredients to improving your running.

That’s all from me, but I hope you enjoyed the read!

You can follow Marshall’s progress by visiting his athletes on the Power of 10 and Run Britain.

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One Comment so far...

Really loved reading this Marshall well done on building your training to stay injury free and good luck in Brighton!
I shall be there cheering you on!

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