As he prepares for the London Marathon illness struck to disrupt Ben Fish’s training and racing in March. Reflecting on past experiences the Blackburn Harrier is all too aware of the dangers when you are pushing yourself in training.

To say that March has been a let down would be a bit of an understatement.

After the National Cross Country Championships, training continued to go very well, nailing key sessions such as 30x 400m in 73’s (30 sec rec) and 6×6 min reps (2 min rec) at half marathon race pace, all combined with good hard runs and 100+ mile weeks.

My first snag was just plain bad luck, which most of us have had to deal with, as the weather conditions forced Bath Half Marathon to be cancelled.

This put to bed the pipe dream of qualifying for the World Half Marathon Championships. Still, I was determined to run a PB at Wilmslow on the 18th, only to go down with a fever and diarrhoea the week before it.

Thankfully, luck went in my favour this time, when it was cancelled and rescheduled for late June.

The illness had me floored for a good ten days and it was hard to manage anything more than a steady plod of a few miles here and there.

It’s always difficult when you’re pushing yourself in training; you’re pushing your body to the limit and there’s always an illness or an injury lurking.

In the 20+ marathons I’ve done over the years, I’d have to admit I’ve become a cropper in the build-up in almost half of them. The key is not to panic, as a rule, if I get ill or injured within two weeks of a marathon, I pull out and have had to do this on a couple of occasions; Berlin 2013 & Manchester 2014.

I once went ahead and raced when not feeling 100%, which was at Eindhoven nearly ten years ago; I failed to finish at 35k and it took me months to recover. I vowed never to make that mistake again.

Testing my fitness ahead of London

With this hiccup coming six weeks out and now leaving me with just four weeks of decent training after recovering, I was concerned about losing my fitness and the best way to find out would be competing in the Northern Road Relays.

Blackburn Harriers have been going from strength to strength in the past few years and we went into the competition with our strongest team yet and was also able to field a solid B team.

Though we’ve still got some way to go to be medal contenders, I was hopeful we might challenge the top five. We didn’t quite manage that, but we equalled our position of eighth from last year and was a mere 10 seconds away from seventh, so we’re certainly creeping up.

I decided not to time my run and just aimed to go as hard as I could and see where I ended up. I didn’t feel good and felt as though I laboured my way around, but I managed to make up a few places.

I later discovered that I ran quite a good time, so that’s certainly very encouraging after the two weeks I’ve had. I was only slightly slower than Tim Raynes, who’s been in fine form for our club and clinched the 10th fastest long leg of the day.

The commitment from the lads has been brilliant, with guys missing road races to turn out, or travelling 100’s of miles to be there, even after a big race, as was the case with Rob Warner. The relays are always a great day out and I’m looking forward to the Nationals in three weeks time, where hopefully I can do a bit more for the team by then.

Even though my road to London Marathon has resembled the M6 at rush hour, I still think I can achieve a decent time.

I’ve had some advice from Andrew Hobdell, who’s coaching/mentoring the On Running team and he’s been really helpful during this period, especially when the self-doubt can creep in when things aren’t going to plan. So it’s very much a case of “Keep Calm and Carry On!”

Ben Fish is part of the ‘class of 2018’ and this year will share his running journey every month. You can read Ben’s previous posts here and further information about the ‘class of 2018’ can be found here.