You can read the first three weeks of Jonathan’s marathon training journey via links further down.

After a frantic dash to finish work last Friday I took on a 10-miler – my longest training run yet – to my brother-in-law’s to celebrate his birthday. For once, the route was almost all downhill, with only the final half-mile or so a climb. 

On the advice of my friend, I’d bought a pair of Shokz headphones and downloaded a Spotify playlist to the Garmin before setting off. I’ve naever minded running without music or podcasts, but these long runs are only going to get longer, and I reckon a distraction will come in handy.

The watch managed an impressive 1,700 90s dance anthems before it ran out of space – just about enough for 10 miles – and off I went, galvanised by the opening drumbeat of Dreamer. The headphones are comfortable and sit outside the ear, using bone conduction technology to give you a great sound while not blocking out the world outside – useful if a bike is coming up from behind (or just a faster runner).

The miles flew by. The only break to the rhythm of the night was when trying to figure out how to skip Vengaboys! Arriving at my destination and a couple of pints of Old Rosie cider – my first booze of the year – I felt pretty good.

Saturday was a rest day, naturally, and I had some beers and wine alongside a seafood feast – hat tip to Bury Market – with my visiting parents.

I knew I had a five-mile ‘on tired legs’ run on the Sunday but it was only when I finally stepped out at 10pm that I realised the Garmin wanted my best effort. The final half was all climb but I gave it everything. I was so tired that I became fixated on a glowing bus stop in the distance which signalled the final part of the hill… but when I got there it was a different bus stop and I had another half-mile to go! Like a desert mirage. 

I’d left the headphones at home, given the late hour, and regretted it. I didn’t make that mistake with Tuesday’s speed repeats – run fast for a minute, run easy for a minute, repeat seven times – or during the easy three-mile run the following day. By now I was on to podcasts, having tried out The Long Run, hosted by Fordy Runs YouTuber and running coach Chris Ford – who has a London accent as thick as mine is Yorkshire – and Tina Muir’s The Running for Real Podcast.

The podcast that I really enjoyed, however, was from across the Atlantic. Hosted by married couple Angie and Trevor Spencer, Marathon Training Academy may sound like an instructional series of training tips for the big race, but their chat is peppered with motivational stories from their own lives and those of their listeners.

In the episode I listened to – Think Big and Take Action (4 Steps) – they review their favourite books read in 2022, with Trevor quoting Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it… There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Which reminds me of Muhammad Ali preparing to face the formidable George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle. This week I read the following passage in Norman Mailer’s The Fight, where the author joins the legendary pugilist on a 3am jog a few days before the fight in Zaire.

“Jogging was an act of balance. You had to get to the point where your legs and your lungs worked together in some equal state of exertion… if one was not more fatigued than the other, you would feel no more abominable after a mile than after the first half mile. Then, if no hills were there to squander one’s small reserve… that steady progressive churning could continue, thorough-going, raw to one’s middle-aged insides, but virtuous – one felt like the motors of an old freighter.”

For all his grand words, Mailer only lasted one slow mile before giving up!

Someone who doesn’t understand the concept of slow is George Tidmarsh, a broadcast producer at the Formula E motorsport championship. He entered the London Marathon last year with only eight weeks of training following a late invite. Guessing that he managed to break four hours, I was astonished to hear that he managed 3:07 – so naturally I began to dig for tips. 

His advice? Avoid the portaloos. “You can’t afford that time. Don’t drink too much water before the race – replace water as you run – and go to the toilet three times in the morning before you set off!”

He didn’t mean number 1s….

Over the next few weeks this column will include advice from experts in areas such as nutrition, training performance and psychology – and naturally tech will be running through it all. If you have an anecdotal or expert contribution to make – or know someone who does – get in touch at [email protected].

You can sponsor Jonathan’s London Marathon run, supporting his chosen charity DEBRA, at this page.

Week 1: How hard can the London Marathon be?

Week 2: Running in the snow (& Peaky Blinders)

Week 3: Beer helps you to recover!