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.
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 [Editor’s note: Since originally publishing this interview, Marcus has now gone even quicker – see below…].
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.
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.
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. [Editor’s note: Since first publishing this interview, Marcus has now lowered his marathon PB to 2:56’19”.]
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…