Tom Marshall shares the most important lessons he has learnt during his career and reflects on the recent Commonwealth Games.
I thought I’d begin briefly but giving a quick overview of my time at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Whilst it was a phenomenal experience (my last blog touched on it a little), my race didn’t go the way I’d have liked it to have, and so I’ve focused on putting the Games behind me, and moving on to the upcoming season.
It was an incredible five or so weeks, it really was. Living like a pro, being in a beautiful country in the most sensational of weather.
I did struggle a little with the loss of the everyday routine, and the lack of focus away from running. I often found that my mind needed a challenge, and being brought up on a farm working from a very young age, I felt that my body missed the hard work that I’m used to.
Training was phenomenal. There can be no doubting it. I was hitting times that I’d never dreamed of hitting, but unfortunately, when it came to race day, the heat and emotions got to me, and through a combination of both, I believe my performance was very under-par.
But what an experience, and a dream come true. When you’ve worked 10 years towards a dream, it feels so much sweeter when it becomes a reality.
So moving on from the Commonwealths and looking forward, I figured I would give an insight into where I believe my improvements as an athlete have come from over the years.
I’ve always looked up to people better than me, and have tried to take away bits from here and there to supplement my training that James Tie (my coach) has given me. I’ve never changed what he has advised me to do, except when I have listened to my body (i.e. taking a day off when ill). But I have worked on my mindset, my drills, my consistency to aid my advancements as an athlete.
Obviously, there is no guarantee that these snippets of advice will work for you, but they have guided me well in my career, and they’re often lessons that I have learned from athletes at the very top.
1) Most of it is mental
When training used to hurt, I used to give in. Often not physically, but mentally. My mind would tell me that it’s hurting, and the best way out is to stop or to slow down.
I was fortunate enough to spend two years training with Chris O’Hare (3.33 1500m guy), and those two years changed me as an athlete.
Watching Chris I would see him hurting, and yet he would carry on and finish reps quicker and stronger. Now, no matter how much it’s hurting me, I won’t stop until the job is done.
If people are coming past me, I won’t give in, I’ll fight for every second and every position! Obviously, if it’s physically hurting and I’m actually feeling pain, I will stop. But I won’t look for a way out. I’ll continue and finish every rep I’m given. No matter the conditions, no matter the intensity.
2) Consistency is key
You can’t push every run, and every session – your body won’t be able to handle it. It will break down. There is such a thing as too much, contrary to what some advice you may you read.
You’re better off completing your runs while maintaining a ‘good’ pace, than missing a week’s worth of training with illness as result of pushing your body too hard.
3) Find out what works for you
I have been under coach Thie for almost my whole career, with the exception of two years in Oklahoma. Under him in my first few years, I was on low mileage. This way, I wasn’t going to burn out, I would enjoy training whilst young, and do a fair bit of speed endurance work.
Under my coach in Oklahoma, I was on big mileage for a 1500m runner (80-90 miles a week). I burned out. So I took three months off and came back to the UK after my master’s and combined the best of both worlds. 50 miles a week average and three good quality sessions a week, with two or three weights sessions.
This combination of the training philosophies seemed to create the perfect storm for my body, and I have seen improvements every year, with no burnout and few injuries or illnesses.
4) Mental happiness helps
You can be in the shape of your life, but if you’re not happy in your life outside of running, it can be difficult to run well. So concentrate on life outside of running as well as running itself.
For example, I’ve treated myself to a magnum every night for the past five nights… it makes me happy!
5) Listen to your body
I love a rest day! If it means a day off once a week, if my body feels revived, that’s much more important to me that overdoing training.
So don’t be afraid to take that day if you’re tired.
6) Believe in yourself
Some days I don’t. And they’re the days I don’t race well. Simple as that. There are people better than me, but I will always believe that I can keep up with them when I hit the start line of the race.
There is of course a fine line between arrogance and confidence, so be careful. Respect those who you’re up against, but if you don’t give it a go, a real good go, how are you going to know what you’re capable of?
I hope that helps give an insight into what has helped me.
My recent training
I’m currently in a slight transition period after the Commonwealth Games, where I need to up my mileage again, so this is a typical week for the next couple of weeks.
Monday: 7/8 miles and weights
Tuesday: 6 x 2 minutes at 4:20 pace average (2 minute recovery, torrential conditions)
Wednesday: 7/8 miles and weights
Thursday: 7/8 miles
Friday: 6 x 400 metre hills, followed by 6 x 60 metres (hard, with a jog back recovery)
Saturday: I’m assuming that session above will ruin my life for a day or two so either a rest or 7 miles easy
Sunday: 12 miles at 5:50 to 6:10 average pace
Tom Marshall features in the ‘Fast 10: class of 2018’ and will share his running journey every month. You can read Tom’s previous posts here and further information about the ‘class of 2018’ can be found here.