Target 26.2 - First Timer Steve's Journey to Paris



  • Thanks for all the great advice everyone - what a decision to have to make!

    I am really and truly in two minds about this... So, for what it’s worth, here is what I am thinking right now (think James Joyce “stream of consciousness” - apologies in advance if I ramble!)

    On the one hand, I am desperate to race. I've been working so, so hard towards this: I've dragged myself out in the cold and wet (and actually enjoying dragging myself out in the cold and wet); I have gone for a run through a hail storm on Christmas morning; I have sacrificed nights out with friends; I've changed my diet and habits beyond recognition; and I've generally chucked everything I have got at this competition and this opportunity. I have seen amazing results and massive improvements come out of it and have actually had the added sense that I still had more to come. For example, Dorney Lake - I absolutely smashed my half marathon PB and did that whilst running a very steady and easy first few miles, running the race in an absolutely monstrous negative split, finishing it feeling pretty fresh and taking nearly a minute off of my new, much faster 5k PB at the end of it... I think it's fairly obvious when you put it like that that I have the potential (whether I actually will or not) to run a half marathon even faster than I did on the day. My 5k PB has been dropping by almost a minute a time every time I have run one. I have generally felt fitter and healthier than I ever have. So with all that hard work and achievement, and in such a short space of time, I would be absolutely gutted to "throw it all away" by not standing there on the start line next weekend.

    But, on the other hand, there is a little voice in the back of my head urging a note of caution… Whether or not I have torn the cartilage in my knee, and there is no way to know for sure until after the marathon, I have certainly done something to it. In that respect, the exact nature of the injury is irrelevant and, frankly, I couldn’t give a toss what is wrong with it beyond the fact that I am absolutely gutted that there is something wrong with it. The plain facts are that it hurts or is, at the very, very best, uncomfortable every single day and it flares up every single time I exercise, whether that be during the session or in the hours following the session. In some ways, then, I think: “if it will just flare up after the marathon then I won’t care and I’ll be well into my third or fourth glass of celebratory wine by then…” but the truth is that I’m fairly certain (and by “fairly” I mean 99% certain) that running 26.2 miles is going to be extremely tough and painful. I’m not one to shy away from tough and painful and I’ve had my fair share of crap over the years that I have, on the whole, tended to face head on. For example (another half marathon!), I ran my first ever half marathon weeks after abdominal surgery to remove a cancerous tumour because I wanted to raise money for Cancer Research. That was seriously tough! So the fact that it will hurt is a bit daunting but, ultimately, just one of those things. It’s more that I’m worried about what longer-term damage I may do to it and whether it is worth risking more serious injury for the sake of a single run which, when you take away all the extras and frills, this is. I’m also pulling my calf muscle and tweaking various things every time I run because I am, unconsciously, definitely favouring the knee and trying to protect it. So am I leaving myself open to further injuries by trying to run it?

    I do, unfortunately, have a further issue that may be a problem and that is that I have not yet got my medical certificate signed to allow me to race – I had the fall before I had th

  • ...

    the chance to get that done and have been holding on to it ever since in the vain hope that things would improve… Having now run out of time with no real improvement and still being mid-referral for the MRI, I have had to book the appointment (at an eye-watering £100) for Tuesday with my GP to assess me as fit to run the marathon or not and, hopefully, sign and stamp my medical form. Basically, I am going to have to lie to him and say that the symptoms have disappeared and I am now running pain-free. Otherwise no GP in the world would sign me off as fit to run! But with that particular problem will be what it will be – there’s not much I can do about it so I’m not worrying about it.

    I think the big question, and one that DS2 has got spot on (thanks DS2), is: would I be running it if it wasn’t for the competition? The honest answer is: No way, I wouldn’t be. That’s a big factor and something I can’t help but have in the forefront of my mind but it doesn’t automatically mean that I shouldn’t run the race or that I would be wrong to give it a go. All the “frills and extras” as I rather flippantly put it earlier are hugely important and have turned this from a single race into a months-long journey and an absolutely amazing opportunity. That is a huge, huge motivator and asks a slightly different question: am I going to finish the marathon if I start it? Without this competition: Honestly, no, I wouldn’t get round I don’t think. With this competition and all the extra motivation it brings, the advice and knowledge on offer and the amazing support: Honestly, maybe.

    It could be that “maybe” is enough to give it my best shot and see where I fall (in a manner of speaking!).

    When it’s all said and done I think it really boils down to head versus heart and I’m going to do some serious pondering over the weekend. Please do keep letting me know your thoughts and advice everyone – it really does help to put it all into context and will be a huge help in my making the eventual decision. Apologies for taking you on a ramble through my thought processes but it has helped to get it all down and consider it properly!

  • My first thought is... don't lie about the symptoms.  You can lie to the doctors, but the marathon will find you out.  A medical certificate may well cover the race organisers, but it doesn't cover you for the consequences.  Get a proper diagnosis.  You might be surprised by the result, then at least you can have more confidence in any decision.

  • Steve - if you are honest with the GP he will make your decision for you.

    Then later in life, with a bit of perspective you can tell your kids that you wanted to run Paris 2013 but the doctor wouldn't let you....that is much easier to take and you won't make Dr Kin Kong's task more difficult.

    None of us want's to read about you being in bits in Paris trying to run on one leg, so I would go over as bottle carrier in chief for your mates, soak up the atmosphere and then get yourself fixed for the next one.

    You are still a runner, a good runner just at the moment an injured runner and a victim of the really tough winter we have all trained through.......

    Good luck, whichever way you decide to go, you know we will be (almost) as disappointed as you if you don't make it but you have entertained us "right royally" and there will be some on here who will run a better race having followed your insights.

    That could be your ultimate prize....

  • PC -PC - ✭✭✭


    I think your head has already answered the question but your heart is refusing to listen.  All credit to you and it's this determination which has helped you achieve your results and there will be more to come once the knee is sorted out.

    Defer to next year.  I won't be running Paris 2014 but I'll be supporting my new found friends from the forum.  I can't promise you the RW treatement, especially as I can't compare to the Lovely Kate, but I know a cheap hotel (Sorry bacon free) and the taxi will take you to the Expo, Race and Bar.

    All the best

  • Hi Steve, I'm glad others have commented because I felt really bad writing my piece yesterday but wanted to make sure everything is thought through to a correct conclusion. Reading your reply made me really feel for you mate, but as others have said your head has made the decison although your heart is, quite naturally, fighting it.

    I, also, think you should be open with the Doctors...

    In our eyes you've behaved like a winner all the way through this. As much as it will hurt, emotionally, to go to Paris but not start I really think that may be the best option. Whatever you do though make sure you go and soak up the atmosphere. You deserve that much, at least.

    If you turn up and on the day it feels much better and you can run at an easy pace maybe you can see how it feels, but I suppose the certificate issue may put paid to that anyhow.

    Good luck.

  • Hi Steve

    I can only echo what everyone else has said. The crucial thing I have learned through this whole marathon training process is how important it is to listen to our bodies...even when we really don't want to. Your results in training have been a real inspiration to me and I'm sure to the others on the forum as well. I just want you to do yourself justice when you do run a marathon as opposed to potentially harming yourself long-term when you could have many more running years ahead of you.

    Keep your head up, you've got support from everyone no matter what conclusion you come to.



  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭

    Steveo - kudos for being so honest and open. Unfortunately I can't offer any wise words of advice. The others have already provided some brilliant pearls of wisdom. 

    What I can do is provide some not so sensible advice because if it were me, I think I'd probably forget about choosing the right option and just freakin' go for it image  

    I would add the caveat that if it starts to hurt beyond a tolerable level then I'd definitely bin out.   I certainly agree that it isn't worth risking more extensive damage. I am of course making the assumption that if there's not much pain it's not doing much harm which may be completely wrong. 

    Basicaly if the leg feels ok enough and I didn't at least try I think I'd be always wondering what would have happened.

    Best of luck to you and as the other guys have said, no matter what happens you've already made this campaign a massive success.

  • Steve, gutted for you having to make this decision after such dedicated training and amazing results since mid December.

    Whether you run Paris or not, you have still gained so much, and the advice from the fabulous Asics team over the past few months will stand you in good stead for years to come.

    GOOD LUCK with your decision, and for the many races to come!

  • Carl DCarl D ✭✭✭

    Steve - have been lurking here from some time and I really feel for you at the moment.

    You have a really tough decision to make. Whatever you decide you are a winner. You have shown that you are a natural at this. You have set some amazing times. You have entertained so many on this thread with your humour. 

    I can only echo what many others on here have said. You should not feel obligated to run just because you won the competition.You need to think about your long term health. You have picked up an injury that for 99.99% of runners would stop them running. You have shown tremendous mental strength to even consider carrying on. You will not be letting anyone down by following your head and not your heart. And as you say there is always the issue of the medical certificate eventhough in my case my doctor just signed it in return for £20 fee without seeing me.

    Easy for me to say a I am not you .... but try and make up your mind before going to Paris as once in the city you will get caught up in the atmosphere and then there is only one decision .....

    It does puts into perspective my own situation. I am due in Paris on April 7th. I had entered before I heard about Asics 26.2. My last run was on March 16th. I have been suffering with a really bad virus since which has knocked me for 6 and running has been totally out of the question. After 2 trips to the doctor, antibiotics, every over the counter medication you can think of, vitamins, fruits etc etc I have turned the corner but am now caught in the do I go / not go debate. I was chasing a sub 3:45 PB having run a PB of 4:23 at last yewars VLM. My training has gone well and I had got a HM PB on a very hilly course of 1:41 so with all things being equal 3:45 was looking doable. But no running for 12 days now, and really unsure what impact this virus has had on my race pace. I should be able to get round if I can get rid of the virus completely before Paris. But is that enough ? Others have advised me to use Paris as a training run and enter another marathon in early May to go after my PB. That sounds tough. I think I would struggle with the concept of running really slow. I am going to try and get out for some easy runs to remind myself what putting one leg in front of the other feels like. But I am quite anxious as that may tell me taht I am just still not ready. I am under a little pressure fro my OH to forget about it as my health is more important. She is right of course.

    So I really do not know what I am going to do at the moment. Very frustrating after putting in a serious amount of training.

    But yours is by far the much harder decision. Best of luck with it.

  • Steve

     I can't help but worry what the long term damage might be. Really consider what you think you need to do for yourself.

    In regards food, you need to simply eat as little processed food as possible and cut down on snacks and meals sizes a little. Keep this simple, your appetite should also have reduced?  

    Best of luck with the decison.


  • I am with the don't run camp I'm afraid. But it's so hard for you that your decision has to be so public!. I agree with whoever said to be honest with the doctor, then at least he will make the right decision for you. And will remove a lot of the emotion (or guilt!).

    The fact that it is sore every day and flares up during exercise or just after, makes me nervous. If you get to the start line, I doubt whether you will drop out, you will grit it through in pain or hobbling to the bitter end. And thats a long way for your poor knee.

    You have improved so much under the Sam's training it would seems a shame to jeopardise all that potential. Get the knee sorted and find another marathon. On one condition, you start a new thread for that one so we can all keep track of your amazing improvements!
  • Whatever you decide, Bacon Steve, we'll all be backing you. What a tough decision to make. All 5 of us will have to get together for a run later on in the year - Autumn half? - So don't worry, you can kick my butt then image

  • Been reading this thread for a while, really enjoyed so many of your posts. Please don't let the Asics challenge be a noose around your neck. You've obviously done so well from it, but if you wouldn't run if you weren't part of it then you shouldn't run as part of it. It's a horrible position to be in, but all the positive things you've got from the challenge and from your training won't disappear if you don't run.

    Good luck with your decision, I'm sure nobody will judge you either way image
  • Hi Steve,

    I've been contemplating what I would do if I was in your position. There has been some great advice and comments from the other guys on your thread, I can only echo a lot of them and say just do whatever is best for you alone.

    Only you know how the knee feels and you'll have a gut feeling how 26.2 miles will make it feel! I know we talked about when I had a similar knee injury and I was approaching a marathon which I ran anyway, but I have to say it sounds like your in a fair bit more discomfort and getting more pain than I had. My injury wasn't causing me pain to run on at the time of the marathon, my pain would manifest in the days after running. So the only problem I had on marathon day was from not being able to do enough training (I'd missed most of the last 9-10 weeks), You've done loads of great training so the main factor will be if it causes you damage and pain.

    Whatever your decision everyone will back you 100%. Make the decision based on your best interests and try and take all the emotion out of it. I know this will be a tough call, but you and your knee have to be the main focus for your decision.

  • Not much I can add to what has already been said fella.

    If I was in your position I'd probably be asking myself how much enjoyment I'm likely to get from the experience if I did try to run?

    As I've said previously you have had an awesome experience and you really have made the most of this opportunity.

    And I second Dudemiester above, if you do opt to postpone you HAVE to start a new thread so we can continue to follow your progress (crikey I sound like such a groupie) image

  • Thanks so much for all the advice and support everyone, I really do appreciate so much you all taking the time to comment and let me know your thoughts.

    I've been having a good, long think about things and had a long chat with physio Sarah on the phone yesterday which really helped work through some things...

    We decided that the best thing I could do was take it very easy on the knee this weekend and that we'd make a final decision on what to do on Tuesday (that will also coincide with my GP appt to be assessed for the medical form so it makes sense).

    I had to go into town to get a few bits on Friday and was on my feet for an hour or two as I walked around the shops... and even that left me hobbling, which wasn't very promising given what next weekend has in store!

    So still no runs to update you with, I'm afraid! For a training thread, it's turned into a bit of a cop out, hasn't it?? But hopefully it's still an interesting read with all that's been happening... please do stick with me for the next week!!

    I was thinking we should perhaps turn the thread into some form of saturday night TV . We could maybe have a public vote on whether or not I should run, wheel out a few Z list celebs who can embarrass themselves pitilessly in a vain attempt to resurrect their flagging careers... No runny, no lighty.

    In fact, if I get a move on and set up a premium rate phone number for votes to be cast, that will help pay the monstrous bill to have my medical check with the GP!

    Please dial '01' if you think Steve can numb the pain sufficiently with a glass or two of French Merlot or dial '02' if you'd rather see Steve cheering on the fab four from the sidelines... whilst enjoying a glass or two of pain-numbing French Merlot.

    Whatever happens, what we can be sure of is that Merlot will be involved and that, I think we can all agree, translates as Victoire!

    Please do keep sharing your thoughts - Dudemeister, you said that having to make the decision so publicly makes it harder... in some ways it does and there's always the worry of people judging you for whichever decision you make but, having read everyone's comments, it really has helped to have all the support and loads of great advice - I feel like I've learned so much in such a short space of time but I still feel like such a novice and having all you guys to bounce ideas off of and lend me your expertise has been a pleasure from start to finish.

    Carl - it's difficult to know what to do for the best, isn't it? I guess I can only repeat what so many have said to me, which is that only you know exactly how you feel. I think if it were me and I had recovered fully from the virus, I would definitely still run it - you can't PB in every single race (although I've given that a bloody good go over the last couple of months haha) and I always find race days such great fun from start to finish no matter how I run. The atmosphere is always amazing and you always end up meeting new, like-minded people. And it's all fantastic race practice at the end of the day - you can practice fuelling, pacing, so many things and just generally enjoy getting out there with 50,000 people all having a common aim...

    It's also easy to forget that the mere act of running a marathon, whatever the time, is an amazing achievement! Whether you end up smashing your PB or you "just get round" in a slower time, you've still run an incredible distance which I bet 95% of your friends and family wouldn't even contemplate attempting. I think sometimes us runners, caught up as we are in times and training methods, forget that, actually, the fact that we are going out to run the distance at all is something we should be proud of.

    The first marathon, supposedly, was run from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens by the

  • ...

    Greek messenger Pheidippides to announce victory... whereupon he promptly collapsed and died from his efforts.

    Legend tells us that his final words were: "Sod it, I wish I'd gone sub 4"...

  • Steve loves bacon wrote (see)

    For a training thread, it's turned into a bit of a cop out, hasn't it?? 

    Not at all - this is what real marathon training is like.  Getting to the start line is an achievement in itself, because it is damn tough to get through the training without suffering illness or injury along the way.  Even the elites fail to make the start line with all the support they receive.

    The good news is there are lots of marathons these days, so missing one isn't the disaster it seems at the time (yes, I've been there - so I do know how tough it is to make a rational decision).

    Good luck with getting the injury sorted very soon.

  • Hey Steve. I agree with's not been a cop out at all. It's been a thread I think most runners can relate to more than I think everyone can see what kind of potential you're capable of.........which is a lot faster than your Paris target time and a lot faster than I'll ever be able to go!

    Selfishly, I really want you to be on the start line. We all started this together and it wouldn't feel right not to finish together too. But at the same time, I'd question the need to risk never meeting your full potetial, just to finish Paris, especially if the pain is as bad as what you say. You'll have many more chances......many more chances to eventually run times most of us can only dream about!

    All the best for Tuesday mate.

  • Steve

    It has all been said above. All the best for Tuesday.
  • Steve loves bacon wrote (see)


    Greek messenger Pheidippides to announce victory... whereupon he promptly collapsed and died from his efforts.

    Legend tells us that his final words were: "Sod it, I wish I'd gone sub 4"...


    Where's the "Like" button when you need it imageimageimageimageimageimage

  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭

    Cop out? Are you kidding? Clearly you are suffering from severe bacon withdrawal!

    I'm totally with Tenjiso. What you've provided is a brilliant laid bare account of the realities of marathon training. What's more, despite things not going to plan, you've maintained a positive vibe packed full of humour along the way. 

    You can see from the amazing comments above that regardless of the ending your journey has brought with it so many positives for you and for all of us following. 

    Whilst I would love to see see you on that start line with the Shade-meister and the others I also want to see you go on and achieve your full potential. 

    Really wish you the very best for Tuesday! 

  • Steve,

    I've waited a bit to post as I think you're own thoughts have been put most eloquently and everyone else has said all the things I agree with.

    Whilst the pressure of the Competition adds to the difficulty of making the decision, I would think of the short term gain and long term pain.. Would it be better to bow out (not quit or cop out) now and fight another day, and achieve what you are clearly capable of, or risk limping round and maybe feeling regret that you didn't achieve what you have worked so hard for?

    It is obvious that everyone will support you in the decision you make, and I doubt anyone will judge- if they do it is clear they have never trained for, or run, a marathon.

    If you do run, and it hurts too much then don't continue. In the words of Dean Karnazes 'DNF' does not mean 'did not finish'- it means 'Did Nothing Fatal'.

    If you don't run, think about having a rest/recuperation, then restart the training programme in a few months with the plan of an Autumn marathon. I am thinking of running either Cologne or Frankfurt- both flat and fast (too many hills in Sheffield so nice to get away from that)- I would be delighted if you would think about joining me??

    Whatever the outcome, you have been a winner, and deserved everything you have achieved so far.

  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭
    Clive Kelty wrote (see)

    If you do run, and it hurts too much then don't continue. In the words of Dean Karnazes 'DNF' does not mean 'did not finish'- it means 'Did Nothing Fatal'.

    Love it! So true Clive. 

    Also Steve, you simply HAVE to keep your thread going post Paris. I'm making a fortune selling my counterfeit Steve Loves Bacon T-shirts down at Orpington market. 

  • jenfjenf ✭✭✭

    great advice n support, as ever, above Steve. Choose wisely tomorrow. xx

  • Hey Steve

    I first applied for the London marathon in 1991. I didn't get in but got a flyer for Luton Marathon in my 'rejected' letter. I hadn't actually realised there were other marathons out there (this was 1991 remember!) so I entered Luton and ran it in 4 hrs 30 secs. I then entered London every year after and finally, in 1995 I got a place. Training went brilliantly - until 2 weeks before, I suddenly got a knee pain out of nowhere. I was out shopping and could hardly bend my leg. My mum picked me up and I spent the weekend worried out my life. Saw a physio on the Monday, and had runner's knee. Had reguarl treatments for next few days but the pain didn't budge and I had to pull out  of London. It was so gutting. But I managed to run it in 1996, injury free and pain free.

    Then in 2010, me and my husband took a 3 month sabbatical and 'lived like athletes' - training, resting, eating. It was such fun and we both clocked PBs at everything from half mara to 10 miles, 10km etc. Then, 4 weeks before, following my longest run, I got a pain in my heel. Just a niggle. But it got wrse and worse and was diagnosed as plantar fascitis. Had various treatments and cross trained but again, I had to pull out of what would undoubtedly have been my fastest marathon yet. It was heartbreaking.

    Why am I telling you this? Well, partly, to assure you that as someone above said, this is the reality of marathon running. It's tough. This happens to all of us at some point in time and it's very hard to get your head round. All that effort and no chance to reap the results. But we also live to fight another day and we learn a huge amount about ourselves, and our bodies, through injury. So it really isn't all bad.

    You have a great running career ahead of you - and in the big scheme of things, this is a blip - it's a very disappointing, gutting, annoying blip but it's not enough to stop you reaching your potential in the future.

    If the pain is present, day after day, when walking, climbing stairs, cross training... my advice would be not to run. If you coudl walk pain free, then it would be different - you could walk the race, with the odd jog thrown in where you feel you can do it. But if you can't even walk without pain, I'd say you need to listen to your body's protestations and bow out. I can promise you, I, nor anyone else who has been part of your journey would consider this to be any sort of cop out.

  • Well said Sam! I have felt a bit bad since starting this 'deferring' thought process but honestly felt it was the right thing to say having had some similar experiences.

    I guess all of us runners go through this but not publicly. We were all so thrilled with your progress and especially the joy it was giving you Steve.

    As everyone has said, no one will think you are copping out. The harder decision is to not take part but if you can't walk without pain...........

    Good luck tomorrow. We'll all support you whatever decision you make.

    I would say get yourself mended and then enter a few races to get the motivation going.
  • D day today... I'm actually feeling nervous! Haha

    Thank you so much for all the kind words, the wise words, the support and encouragement. I think I know which way the wind is blowing but it will be interesting to see what the doctor says...

    I am at work today and just popping out for the appointment so I'll post an update when I can.
  • You will always be a super star to us!!!!.....if not the outcome this time.....we will have another go in the Autumn and get the 5 of us together again for another one!!!......I know not the same, but hopefully something positive to focus on!!!......x

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