Welcome to the latest edition of ‘In the Pen’, our series of interviews with the runners that inspire the Lonely Goat community.
This month we welcome runner and podcast host, Marcus Brown, aka Marathon Marcus.
Marcus describes himself as a family guy and an athlete, training to see what his best looks like.
He is a World Marathon Majors Six Star Finisher (earned by completing the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City Marathons), Half Marathon Des Sables Peru finisher, speaker, writer, and an England Athletics Leader in Running Fitness Coach.
Marcus is perhaps best known as the host of the ‘A Runner’s Life’ podcast, where he has interviewed a range of fascinating guests including élite Irish marathoner, Aoife Cooke; the event director of the London Marathon, Hugh Brasher; and activist and writer, Alison Mariella Désir.
Marcus is used to being the one that asks the questions, but he was kind enough to take the time to answer ours.
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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photos on IG show part of the journey. Not all changes are physical ones we can see. Plus we may not be strong enough to share them at the time. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The photo on the left, doesn’t tell the story of a recent cancer health scare, the fears & the doubts, and the subsequent training block which suffered. It shows the elation of a PB on the surface, but beneath is the gratitude to be alive. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In the age where people make assumptions, without all the facts, let’s assume less, be kinder to ourselves and others, as you don’t know what people are going through, behind IG and real life. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This Sunday I’ll sharing my marathon journey in a marathon workshop hosted by @r.d.physio (click my bio link for details/tickets) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #transformationtuesday #tuesdaymotivation #cancersucks #beatcancer #The40thRace #LondonMarathon #Brightonmarathon #Manchestermarathon #Bostonmarathon #StrongerThanYouThink #ProDirectRunning
1. Why do you run?
It helps me to better connect with myself and be more present in the world.
2. What motivates you?
I don’t believe in motivation; it’s not enough.
I have a few intrinsic “whys” that keep me going, especially on the days that I don’t want to train. For example, to be my best self, and to be the best for my family.
3. What are your top tips for beginner runners?
Have patience and don’t rush the process: Running fast doesn’t occur in one 16 week training block; it’s built with consistent running.
My coach said “Don’t judge your running performance by three months’ work. Instead, judge your running performance by three solid years, compared from where you started to where you are at the end of that period.”
You will have dips in between the training blocks, but if you stay consistent you will improve. It just takes patience and believing, even in the tough months where it feels like you’re going backwards.
I don’t see myself as talented, but with staying patient and doing the work my coach tells me to do, I’ve gone from a 4:55′ marathon down to 3 hours and 19 seconds.
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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you’ve lost running focus during 2020 leave a ?? below? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ??♂️ I have… I trained for a spring marathon (postponed). I’m training for a fall marathon (uncertain). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’ve been in and out of rymthm with my sub 3 marathon goal at times this year. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ CV19 is bigger than sport, and there still remains much uncertainty if the Oct 4 London Marathon will happen. I’ve decided to step back from my full marathon buildup until the next announcement. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Talking to a friend who has considerable challenges in their life, made me feel embarrassed how trivial my “problem” is. Perspective. Not racing vs meeting of basic human needs. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Talking to my performance mindset coach Duncan @dsfcoaching he reminded me of perspective. There isn’t one runner who’s been motivated the entire 2020. And to retain perspective of gratitude for what you can still do, vs what may not be possible to do. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ He added that, it's not always easy, in the down moments, it's acknowledging them, embracing them and then choosing to move through them once you've sat in it long enough. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ☝?Tomorrow’s podcast @runtoreach will interview me, we talk about lockdown and she asks the questions I’ve asked my previous guests! I’m biased but it’s a cracker. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #ARunnersLife #RunningPodcast #RunningPodcasts #RunStories #RunUK #RunnersOfInstagram #UKRunChat #londonmarathon2020training #virginlondonmarathon2020 #virginlondonmarathon2020 #SunGod
4. What is your favourite place to run?
For races, I would say the New York City Marathon and the London Marathon, just because of the incredible crowd support that makes them special.
Also when I did the Half Marathon des Sables in Peru, that was an incredible place to run in.
5. Where would you like to run that you haven’t?
I’d like to do the Athens marathon.
6. Do you have any funny running stories?
Probably more so ‘ironically funny in the harshness of life’ rather than ‘jokey funny’, was in the 2019 Manchester Marathon.
I was feeling unwell towards the last 10K of the marathon, I gave the final push to the finish line and I threw up. I’ve got it captured on film and have various photos thanks to the photographers, but looking back at the film – when I’m being sick and you see the medical staff coming to help at a distance – there’s then a guy that crosses the line just after me and his legs just go and he falls backwards. But no one sees him, as they are helping me. It’s a calamity at the finish line and seeing it back was just ridiculous.
Ironically, being sick was actually a good mental shift because once you’ve been sick in front of lots of people, you learn that the perceived fear of something happening, against the actual reality, isn’t that bad!
7. Do you have any favourite running books?
When doing easy runs I have several audiobooks I listen to on repeat, like David Goggins’, or other special forces books.
I just like the matter-of-fact way of viewing life.
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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ An open letter to event organisers and race directors by @blacktrailrunners ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Swipe right ?? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Please read, and share ??? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #BlackTrailRunners #BlackTrailRunnersuk #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesStillMatter #RunningCulture #RunnersWorldUK #RunnersWorld #diversewerun #blmuk #DoTheWork #WeMatter
8. What did you used to do that you don’t do now?
Intensity of workouts.
A rookie mistake I made at the start of my running journey was to run every session at the same pace, which was faster than yesterday.
I’ve subsequently learned that to run fast requires running at varying speeds. My general principle is that I run 80% of my runs at a very easy pace and I save 20% for the workouts and tempo runs.
9. What result are you most proud of?
Personal: My family, getting married and having my kids.
Running: Earning the six star World Marathon Major medal in Boston 2018 with the atrocious weather. It wasn’t about the medal, but what can happen if you set yourself a big goal and you actually get it. At the time of getting the medal, more people had climbed Everest than earned the six star medal.
10. Who inspires you?
In my podcast, ‘A Runner’s Life’, I speak to a wide variety of people, from élite runners all the way down to runners that are finishing towards the end of the marathon. And something I learned is that everyone has a valuable experience to share and all are equally as inspiring.
Whilst I may look at running in a certain way, if I speak to someone else they’re going to look at running with a 1° difference – but that 1° difference is a new truth, a new way of looking at things.
So for me, it’s about understanding and appreciating what that 1° difference is, and looking at the world in a different view to the one that I believe is true.
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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Knox Robinson ran competitively at Wake Forest before moving to New York to work in music, where he managed indie artists and served as editor-in-chief of the music culture magazine, The Fader. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Following the birth of his son he returned back to running, in a big way. He is a coach of Nike+ Run Club in New York City, captain and co-founder of Black Roses NYC run collective and a top 100 finisher in the New York City Marathon. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In Episode 18 (available on Apple, Spotify, Anchor). We spoke about the time he spent with Dr Maya Angelou at university, we also discussed his running journey. Plus the poem by Robert Lax (swipe right). It was a real privilege talking and learning from him. You can follow him on Instagram under @FirstRun ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #RunningCulture #FirstRun #RunningIsGood #BlackRosesNYC #ARunnersLife #RunStories #RunningPodcast
11. Are you a parkrunner?
Parkrun is a great thing because it’s about community and is wider than running.
However, with my training I tend to be pretty focused on my sessions and it’s easier for me to get my session done early in the morning, then spend the rest of the day with my family; rather than trying to break up my runs with parkrun, then park-solo-run, and then spending time with family afterwards.
12. Music or silence when running?
Both. I like listening to podcasts and audiobooks on my easy runs. But equally, I can go running in silence. And sometimes I might listen to music.
It just depends on how I’m feeling at the time. I haven’t really got a preference to running with or without these options.
13. What do you like about running on your own?
It gives me time to process things and to decompress.
14. What is your next challenge?
To run a faster marathon and beat my personal best of 3:00’19” I set in NYC.
15. How can people follow you online?
Podcast: A Runner’s Life
Thanks Lonely Goat Running Club for inviting me to feature here.
For me, if you run, you’re a runner. So to speak to so many different people on my podcast, learn about them, and share online to capture the conversations that we have, is a lot of fun. I’m grateful that my podcast has inspired many members of the Lonely Goat community.
Thank you Marcus!
Keep your eyes peeled for the next edition of ‘In the Pen‘, coming soon…
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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It may be night, but the sunrise always follows. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ My marathon goal is to break 3 hours ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Last year. I ran Manchester Marathon, and threw up at the finish line: PR 3:05:58 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Following health issues, my training fell off a cliff, but I ran a PR in Berlin: 3:01:07 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Weeks later I returned to the NYC and ran a PR on the hardest course of the six world majors: 3:00:19… I’m 20 seconds closer to my goal ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This isn’t a woe is me, playing my ? post. Yes I was in sub 3 shape in 2019, but it didn’t happen, the marathon owes me nothing ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I know that following these challenges, my time will come. I trust my coach. In tomorrow’s episode of a runner’s life, Coach John @stazzas_stable and I talk about what is required to break sub 3 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #CoachJohnKnows #LifeOfARunner #RunItFast #roadid #personalbest #onrunning