Manchester, so much to answer for

Disclaimer: “If you think you’re beaten then you are, if you think you dare not you don’t.” The old mantra is back having forgotten about it for too long. This one is for anyone who has been in a running rut recently.

If you have read this blog before then you will know I did the London marathon last year, you couldn’t miss it. Every blog for months about it. I was excited, training hard, going for it and the final blog itself was like a novella. Well I am actually doing a marathon this year as well and it’s only 10 weeks away. Aye it has certainly been a bit low key. On the 8th April I will be doing the Greater Manchester Marathon.


When I signed up when recuperating from my operation I was full of good intentions – I’d smash my London time, get my GFA, get so fit and smash all my other PBs during the training. It hasn’t even looked like even almost happening. I have reasons, none of which are excuses. Post operation I just never really got the urge to train hard again. I just ran and that was fine. And it took me a while to start enjoying that again but I did, doing parkrun tourism and some long runs on my own with tunes and getting back out with others to the windfarms etc. But I’ve never really kicked into the training. The one time I tried I fell on a rep and sort of didn’t bother again. I’ve ate crap. I’ve put on weight. I know, moan moan moan. More moaning than Meg Ryan in that film with the guy from Soap but at least mine are genuine. But the 12 weeks to go to Manchester marker came and something went in my head. 12 week plan, let’s do it. Sadly the snow came with it, along with my family bereavement so nothing really happened there. Week one down the tubes, managed a good 35 or so miles but like Bambi, and Sunday’s 14 miler at Chatelherault was slippier than a PPI cold caller covered in eels. So this week and pretty much step it up or give it a miss. I went to the club session on Tuesday, the aptly named “Hills of Hell” at Tannochside. This is about 9 miles or so, but there are 10 climbs of increasing length and steepness that you go up and down. Hard up the hills, easy back down and carry on. The ice had cleared, the rain had stopped, the wind was relatively calm, Big Neil chief of Babybel was in Malky mode, and I thought “aye, bring it on.” I know I am not in good shape and although the weight coming down slowly I’m still way above racing weight but I got to the first hill and gave it laldy and was the first up. I remember something the Legend said to me. Aye how times change, he is now the man with the advice as I don’t just chase his tail, but need binoculars to even see it. Anyway he had said after a similar session, and I’m paraphrasing, but the jist was

When you lead through the first you need to make sure you are up there for the rest of them or everyone else will just think you’re a fud”.

We had a cracking group. Cammy, Nick, Neil, Mr Kennedy, Mark E, Claire, Brian etc. etc. and as we got to the bottom of each hill I hit them hard straight away. I’d like to say I maintained it over every one but of course I didn’t. Cammy danced away like a gazelle wearing springs on his Nikes. On a few the legs were like rubber before the top and I struggled to get there. On one particularly steep dog leg one a car turned in front of me and I had to stop but couldn’t start up the legs again. But I gave it what I had. We approached the last of them, the S Bend, so called because it’s bendy. And in the shape of an S. It’s a right bugger, about 800 metres of a climb to the finish at the bus stop. By then we had decided it’s no longer the Hills of Hell, it’s the Mounds of Merriment. Neil had agreed sod the consequences, the MAC Malky was being unleashed on the final of the efforts and we went for it. I won’t pretend I felt fast, or great, but I felt strong enough and swear I was catching Cammy at the end. Aye OK I probably wasn’t but with Cammy not on Strava it was nice to go home and see I’d taken the CR for the segment.

Nice way to finish the session. It had been a long, long time since I had felt a buzz like that from a session and it was like a mojo rebirth. I know, how dramatic, but something really clicked.

Thursday’s solo session I had been dreading.

8 miles with 4 miles at half marathon pace. Easy thing to do here is in the running stupor I have had really is guess how slow I’d do a half marathon just now and do my miles at that pace. I’d be lucky to do 1.35, so therefore about 7.15 mile pace, or about 4.30 k pace. But no. I had a wee bit of confidence back. Last year I ran under 1.28 at a windy Alloa. If fit I should be able to do 1.25/ 1.26, I know that. I believe that so my k pace I was going to try and hit was to be about 4.07. I sussed my route out and decided on 3 miles warm up, 4 at half marathon pace then a mile or so cool down. 3 miles would take me to the top of the Muirhouse hill, so my 4 miles would be a slight uphill then mostly downhillish. Aye ok then. With the gradient benefit I would try and get 4.05 ish instead. 2 weeks ago my thinking wouldn’t have been there. Slow option would have been the answer. But I committed and went for it. I won’t pretend it was as easy as it should have been but hit the miles in 6.28, 6.28, 6.25 and 6.16, averaging a k pace of 3.58. Even with the cool down and warm ups the average mile pace was 7 mins exactly and the kilometre was 4.21, both faster then what I would have done had I went with my negative heid.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know I have a long way to go and I doubt I have the time before Manchester to get to where I would have liked but it’s the perfect chance to hit a schedule and get myself in shape. I am not going to stress about where I want to be and not getting there, but the head is in it now and I’ll work hard to get the best out of what I can. I am now on the Manchester trail and I will bore you all over the next couple of months with my progress and what happens on the day. Manchester, so much to answer for. If I can leave you with one wee thought, one wee titbit of advice if things aren’t going that well for you. I have said it before and I will say it again and need to remember my own words, because I DO keep forgetting. Go out your comfort zone every now and then, and as Walter D. Wintle said,

“If you think you are beaten, you are, If you think you dare not you don’t, If you like to win but you think you can’t ,It is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost. For out of the world we find, Success begins with a fellow’s will, It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are, You’ve got to think high to rise, You’ve got to be sure of yourself before, You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go, To the stronger or faster man, But sooner or later the man who wins, Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”

I thought I was beaten. I’m sure plenty of times you feel the same. So dare. Give it a go. Don’t fear failure. I know I am going up against all the big guns at the Running Awards for this wee blog, but I am still going to just doing what I do, no topless instagram pics in my Runderwear or Forgoodnessshakes adverts (unless they ask). I will put the voting link in each blog too, hope you don’t mind, it’s below under Online and Publications, then personal blog. Voting reset last week when the shortlist was announced, so if you voted before please do it again 🙂

Vote for Markgallmac here – Publications and online / Blogs (personal)

It’s ironic that in the week I talked about other bloggers having a media profile that Men’s Running magazine picked me for sub star of the month, but since it’s only for subscribers I’ll show it below. That’s me that is 🙂


Until later, and go out there and give it a go. Now you get the song. Aye Manchester, so much to answer for, a classic quote from yet another Smiths song. Despite the song’s poignant lyrics about the Moors Murders, the guitar on this is as sweet as you are ever going to hear.

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