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A Marathon Journey Part I

by Michael Piper |  Published: Jun 01, '11


As you may know, last month, on the April 17, I ran the London Marathon. As a drinking, smoking, occasionally light-drug-dabbling diabetic, this was not a task to be taken lightly. Once my doctor somehow gave me the all-clear, I increased my training and resolved to give up smoking and drinking.

It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I absolutely will do another one. My finishing time was 5 hours 21 minutes, and next time I intend to reduce that to 4 hours, having still had more left in the tank. But before I tell you about the experience itself, I want to write about what I learnt during training.

Types of Training

I found it important to vary my training. First of all, while running is fun, it can get a little monotonous. Secondly, your overall stamina is improved by different types. Building up cardio endurance is obviously key, but interval training (short bursts of high-intensity training followed by a recovery period, for example boxing or soccer) increases your lung capacity and strengthens your heart muscles. Doing both types of training in tandem is much better for your marathon training than just the one. Not only that, but the individual muscles need work outside of running, especially your core.

I stopped playing soccer for fear of injury, but my training schedule was richly varied. On Wednesday nights I did tai-chi, which improved my balance, breathing and focus. On Saturdays I did an hour and a half of ‘boxercise’, which included an intense warmup period. Once a week I lifted weights with a personal trainer and did other exercises to improve my core strength. I neglected my high-intensity, short duration running, but was regularly running medium and long distances. The result was that I very much enjoyed the four intense months of training that preceded the marathon, the improvements to my body were balanced, and the actual marathon itself proved less of a strain than it could have been.


One thing you can’t reproduce outside of an actual competitive race is the mindset and the motivation. It’s really hard to push yourself really hard, whether or not you have a target (hint: targets help a lot!). One solution is to train with a partner – I wouldn’t want to let my partner down, so I keep up the pace and go the distance, and would hope that he would do the same.

Another is to take part in a competitive race during training in order to replicate the sensation of pushing yourself hard to do your best in a competitive setting. I failed to do either of the above, but ahead of my next marathon, I will definitely do a local 10k or half-marathon.

A third option, which I chose, is to associate the emotional, psychological and physical feelings I got from running with music, in the style of Pavlov. I only listened to a specific album when I ran – ‘For lack of a better name’ by Deadmau5, which is a pretty pumped-up album anyway – and never listened to it unless I was running. After three months of regular running, at least three times a week, I gave it a try outside of the treadmill. When I was a little down, depressed, under the weather, as it were, I put the album on. One track in particular, ‘Strobe’, is incredibly powerful. I started sweating, my heart started pumping faster, and I had to get up and move about – a huge change! It didn’t just work to bring myself up outside of training, though, it served to excite me about running, and stop it from being monotonous, which it often is on a treadmill.

Nowadays I don’t just listen to Deadmau5 while I’m running, and I listen to lots of other stuff. Mostly trancey – Gui Boratto, Wolfgang Gartner, Laurent Garnier and John Digweed are my favourites.

Check back tomorrow for part II of this blog.

Michael Piper has been playing PLO for a living both online and live for five years. He posts online under the screenname “wazz".
Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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