What colour is marathon?

On the night before the longest of long runs the biggest test beckons.

It’s physical, yes, but mental more than anything else.

If it’s your first marathon, then this will be longest you run before the day of reckoning. You question if it is even possible, it’s a little further than that long run the other week, but it’s another step up and you felt knackered after that one.

If you’re running a marathon again whether the 2nd or more, you know this is the business end of training. Despite the experience that sits with you, there is still a little bit that wonders can I still manage it, will the body hold out, am I really on track for that target time, the race pace I need to attain.

20+ miles stretches the body and mind. Your body, assuming you are relatively injury free at this stage, will get you through it. Physically if you have got this far, then these additional miles shouldn’t present you with too many challenges. Yes, you’ll be super tired. You’ll be eating like a velociraptor post-run, and you’ll need a rigorous recovery approach to stretch and roll away the aches and pains you’ll get at the end.

Mentally the challenge is even more pronounced. The inner dialogue will dominate everything – perhaps for the whole run, or a section (short or long) when you are at your most tired. Offering all kinds of advice that you little realised you needed, or foresaw that you would need to deal with or address. Advice on what you’re feeling, what’s hurting and why, your pace or lack of it, that you are pushing too hard not pushing hard enough.
That you shouldn’t even be doing this, that it’s even further than this, that it’ll be so different come race day how can this really be the right preparation. Did you leave the gas on?

Responding, acknowledging, and accepting this is going on is perhaps one of the biggest parts of the training you are putting yourself through. That’s because this is what you will experience on marathon day. No matter how much you revel in the crowd shouting your name, keeping an eye out for your friends and family on the way round the course. You will join the chorus in your head.

The longest runs prepare you for this, train you to expect it, and skill you in dealing with it. It’s vital learning because it trains you to pay attention to those dimensions of the marathon you can control your preparation, your refuelling and hydration, your technique and form. All things where advice is aplenty and this blog contains many tips for that can now be found all in one place in a blog entry that accompanies this one.

Elements of getting you ‘ready’ for the marathon whether it’s your first, or second, or more.

All training runs designed to get past the inner dialogue…..

“Charlotte’s Locks”

“Squashed Tomatoes, Harbour Fog”

“Mouse’s Back, Cat’s Paw, Mole’s Breath, Raised Bed, Chelsea Cucumber, Astronaut Blue”



Not random words, or a particularly surreal inner dialogue, but genuine names to describe colours on a variety of paint charts to be found online. Go on search. Pick one at random, these really are colours. Of paint. You can put on your walls, or skirting boards.

It got me thinking, what colour is marathon?

Not a single colour that’s sure.

A palette, a mix, a maelstrom of reflection, a subtle bending of light that provides insight, challenge, a sense of purpose and an amazing release of wellbeing.

A colour wash that perhaps looks like this (Click to read):

Paint Chart

Revel in that long run, it’s the best preparation for your new colour swatches.

Paint, pant, enjoy.


About Simon Tanner

Eight time marathon runner, having run Brighton x6 and London x2, finally got a London ballot place after 7 consecutive attempts. I try to write about things I'm going through / have gone through in training to help others attain their running goals, whatever the distance.
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