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From the desk of Coach James

London Marathon training heads to the Athletic Academy track

I was starting to get anxious preparing for the London Marathon, was it enough to just go to the gym and run on the machine in a safe environment where I can hold on if I lose balance and there is no danger of falling on the pavement – I can go all out with no danger of accident. I joined a running group who run 5-7k on a Tuesday and Thursday evening, through Exeter and then a circuit down on the quay, over cobbles and across wobbly bridges – really not ideal from a safety aspect for me.

None the less I joined the SRC group and went for a 5k run on my birthday, the cobbled surfaces

The Sweatshop Running Community group photo.

made me nervous, and then people out walking their dogs, I almost ran into a cyclist. The second week I went on a Thursday which was said to be an easier 3-5k run. So off I set running down the high street and then up a side street before turning to go down a steep slop towards the quayside. It was at the turn my foot decided to say 'no more'. I had a sprain and had to walk the rest of the circuit back to the start. Absolutely gutted I was. My Marathon training was over before it had begun.

For the next two weeks I had my foot up watching the Rio Olympics, adding salt to the wound by watching others run and compete, while I had a bag of frozen peas on my foot. Where was my training going from here?

If only there was somewhere flat, not threatening if I fall – like an athletics track. I Googled to see if there was such a facility near me, and to my surprise, there was, at Exeter Arena. Foot still not well enough to run on, I made enquiries to see what the chances of me training on the track were. I spoke to the coach of the South West Athletics Academy and she told me about an open day which was coming up. "So I can just turn up?" That was the information I got, to just show up.

The day arrived and my foot had only recently recovered from the sprain, I ran briefly through town to see if it was doable. To be honest, I could have stayed in bed and rolled over, but I was really eager to run on this track and see if that could be a way for me to move forward with my marathon training. The next infrequent bus seemed to take an eternity to arrive, as I waited thinking I need to be there

by 10am. As the Gods would have it I arrived in good time and even bagged the first number to adorn on my vest. I really had taken this quite literally, and just turned up – although I'd packed two pairs of running shoes. I was unaware that you were expected to bring your own lunch, so after running four laps of the 400m track I was verging on low blood sugar. Luckily I had brought an energy bar with me – not quite an egg 'n' cress sandwich – which I made a dash towards, but was stopped in my stride by a volunteer from the event who wanted to introduce me to a man from the BBC news programme, Spotlight. Even with plummeting blood sugar, the invitation to speak to the media was an opportunity that couldn't be missed.

In that moment my story, my message was about to go mainstream. If I hadn't had just 'turned up', the video on this blog would not be here. The future of my Marathon training looks set to be on the athletics track. The first time I did a lap it was a long way, by the fifth time I hit my stride and was away, somewhat out of breath, but well on the way. Still a long way to go to 26 miles, it's a start at least.

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