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The London Marathon runner

With the Marathon less than a month away, we sat with UK athlete and On runner Chris Thompson, tipped as one of the favorites leading up to the race, about his expectations, training and plans for the big event - and beyond.

The London Marathon.


Counted as one of the six World Marathon Majors it is featured as a “must do” on every runner’s dream event list. And for Chris Thompson, the 2017 event has been a long time coming. Being amongst the first British runners to cross the line on April 23 will mean qualification for the World Championships later in the year – something Chris has his eyes firmly set upon.


I’m feeling a bit more relaxed - I've got the work behind me. It's just a nice place to be.

“It’s a long year this year,” says Chris, when we ask him how it’s all going. “There are a lot of things I want to have a good go at. The London Marathon’s definitely one, but then there’s the London World Championships – so the first major box is qualifying at the Marathon.”



So Chris, with four weeks to go, how's training?


“The mileage is coming down, but the intensity of the sessions are creeping up. When I first started getting into it (training), for two, three months, it was just lots of volume, lots of running. That’s what’s needed. You don’t get to race day and go, "Wow, I just did that" - that doesn't really exist. It's more a case of, "Oh, I've just done that because I've done a huge amount of training to get here." I've run fast times, fast races and I thought I didn't have that in me. But when I look back at it logically, it’s like, well actually, I have been running well for a while. Even though it may not have gone well for two weeks, that fitness doesn't leave you. That’s where I am now. I've got enough decent running behind me now that I'm not surprised if I have a bad day, and then a few days later, I come back and I run really well. The fitness is there, it's just a matter of nurturing it.”

The fitness definitely is there, winning earlier in the month the Trafford 10km in Manchester... in very wet conditions... with a sub 29:00 time. So from Manchester to now London, how do you feel about events like these on home soil VS others around the world?  


“When I was younger, it was more about wanting to travel to far-off places. Now I’m like, "Oh it's so nice having it at my doorstep." I think we put on a decent sporting event. I think you get countries kind of in love with certain sports and athletics is something that gets a lot of following in the UK. Athletics is something that the British public gets behind, and so it's not just a case of being English, and getting to potentially compete. It's the fact that you have so many knowledgeable fans getting behind you. That’s exciting for me, and knowing how in to it everyone else is as well makes it even more exciting for all.”



With excitement mounting not just in the UK, but amongst all runners worldwide, how do you deal with the stress and sleeping the night before a race like this?


“You don't really. It’s like with anything - with training, sleep, and rest - it's about how it's been in weeks leading up to it. I think once you get to within 24, 48 hours, your emotions and stress levels are not worth fighting because you'll only make things worse. You just have to accept that you might not get much sleep, but know the night before the night before, or the weeks before, you've had plenty of rest.

You have to roll with the punches that come with the stress of a big event.

I think I've done it enough to know that I've turned up to events exhausted from stress, and found a way to compete and compete well. I think that you learn over time that if you don't get any sleep the night before, it shouldn’t matter as much as people may think.”



With sleep and stress covered, what other pre-race-habits do you have?


“You try and keep your days in as much of a routine as you can, even to the last minute. In the days leading up to it, when you do have less to do – less training and preparation - I just string out things so they take up the day, so that I don't feel like my mind is too consumed with what's going on. Usually, breakfast takes me about five or 10 minutes and I'm out running. Once I get to that final week, breakfast will probably take an hour plus. You just take your time with what you're doing, so the day gets eaten up in a relaxed fashion. You need to do that. You need to get your energy levels up. You need to get your mental strength up. So you find ways of making things last a little bit longer. Last year, I remember, I actually spent the week doing a very difficult puzzle. This year going into the expo for On. You use these things as a way of breaking up the day, so you're not sitting around just thinking... Mental recovery is possibly harder than physical.”



Talking about On, which of the different models will you be using on the day itself?

Well at the moment I'm doing a lot in the Cloudflow and Cloudflash.

I'm still undecided to what to do on the race day, so will have to wait and see. I've done all my steady runs, and many mix-up sessions in the Cloudflow, and shorter sessions in the 'flash. The 'flash on a track are amazing - on the track, good lord, you can just float around on them."

So what are your goals for not just for the Marathon but beyond?


“At the moment, the only thing I'm concerned with it being the first British to cross the line - and picking up that place at the World Championships. That's the number one goal. I have got big aspirations for that (the World Championships). I mean for me, this year, it's not a question of, "I want to make the World Championship team” and being happy with that, but finishing really high up there. I've built my base for it - a very high position and finish in the World Championships. And that's something that, at the moment, is my big driving force for the year. The thing that fuels every day.”



And finally, how can people support you on your mission?


“I think people just sharing in the journey. When you have success, an athlete's emotion is they want a shout from the hills when it goes well - and when it doesn’t, they just want to crawl up into a cave. When you think about it like that, success only really matters when people are enjoying it with you. I think it's a massive thing to celebrate wins or celebrate success with people.

Yes, it's a lonely sport, and yes, you're trying to do it for yourself, but you still want to be able to share at least a part of it with others. That’s one of the reasons I run, anyway.



The London Marathon - April 23rd, 2017.

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