London Marathon 2016 Training Blog: Building a Tough Mentality

By Scott Mills

‘Beep, Beep, Beep.’

As the clock strikes 7am on a cold, blistery Monday morning, the majority of us are usually groggily awoken to the sound of an alarm to signify one of the most soul destroying thoughts known to man.

For most of us, this is spending the next five days sat in an office whilst listening to 70 year-old admin officer, Doreen, talk about how you’re far too young to be tired and what she used to do back in the day, whilst possibly making a cup of coffee that tastes so bad it makes your Mum’s cuppa taste like Starbuck’s finest.

However, whilst I do sympathise for these people, the sound of my phone alarm waking me up on a Monday often prompts me of a hard weeks worth of training that lay ahead of me.

It also subconsciously reminds me that the dreaded 26.2 miles draws another week closer.

Now, to say that Monday’s 9 mile training session was my hardest one yet wouldn’t be true but after spending the day before running up and down a football pitch in swamp like conditions for 90 minutes, it was definitely made slightly harder run than it should have been.

One of the slightly better surfaces I have played on. Me in the centre of the picture probably moaning as usual about something.

One of the slightly better surfaces I have played on. Me in the centre of the picture probably moaning as usual about something.

With the weather that we have recently experienced being absolutely atrocious, the football pitches as you may expect have turned into nothing but mud and if this was a person releasing a mix tape it most definitely was collaborating with a few puddles.

Twisting, turning and constantly changing from running into a full out sprint obviously takes its toll on the legs, so the run on Monday was made slightly harder for this exact reason.

Although, I was progressing well and totalling up the mileage in which Jenny had told me when the week comes to an end is what matters, I was most definitely not expecting what happened to me on Wednesday.

Due to run two laps around the whole of Richmond Park battling against winds and trotting up hill after hill, from the moment I left my house I felt something was unusually odd that doesn’t often happen to me.

The feelings of sluggishness I thought I would be able to shrug off, but when I embarked on my run around the park, my mind just wasn’t in it no matter how much I tried to push myself past it.

It was an extremely unusual experience, one that I haven’t encountered before and even though I had the thought of overcoming barriers drilled into my head no matter if they were blisters, aches, pains, the weather or even the course by Jen, my mind just wasn’t having any of it.

To say I was fuming with myself would be an understatement.

Knowing how hard I am on myself usually not settling for anything less but to be the best and succeed, I knew that my body could accomplish this run but the fact my mind was just not allowing it created a huge disappointment upon myself.

It also didn’t help that I am quite the perfectionist in the sense that I wanted everything to be perfect and plain sailing but as we know that is often not the case.

When I was reunited with Jenny in the parking lot however, my perception on what to me was a failure was quickly turned into a positive.

The deer of Richmond Park. The ones I never know if they want to attack me or not!

The deer of Richmond Park. The ones I never know if they want to attack me or not!

Being told by someone who trains Paralympic Gold Medallists, that this happens when you’re an athlete and that you have off days slightly softened the blow.

But it was what she told me next that had the biggest of impacts on my outlook about the fact that I had only manage to cover seven miles of this 12 mile course.

“What matters is how you deal with it, because what you need to do now is draw a line under today, accept that it’s happened and look to bounce back tomorrow.

“You have just got to forget about it as it’s in the past and you can’t change it but put all your focus on tomorrow,” she told me as she swigged a bottle of Buxton’s finest sparkling water.

Now I don’t often get to witness many motivational speeches in person, but this one from Jen was definitely showing shades of Martin Luther King and his ‘I have a dream’ speech because it definitely made me more determined to come back better the next day.

If there was another thing I was to learn about this training session it was that not even the powerful playlist that includes the likes of Will Young and Gareth Gates could pull me through it.

Another great strength I drew from this experience was the power of visualisation techniques in sport where I would write down every thought I had from that session and then throw it in the bin almost as if I was done with it for good.

With my mind revitalised and being more determined to conquer this run, Friday couldn’t have come around quicker.

In fact when it did, I aced it and when the run ended I was on cloud nine.

But what made this personal victory even more sweeter was the fact Jenny told me how proud she was that I overcame this because she knows how hard it was for me to accept that I couldn’t achieve this earlier on in the week.

It wasn’t covering the 12 miles that was what made me so happy because I knew I could run that distance having done so in previous sessions but it was the way in which I could overcome obstacles my mind was putting in front of me.

I couldn’t have been rewarded in a better way than covering around eight miles in a 5-1 defeat that Sunday though, where I came out of the match looking like I had just wrestled a pig in mud rather than played football.

As the week came to a close, the announcement from Jenny that my challenge for this week would be covering distances of around 15 miles has got me looking forward to pushing myself even more.

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