The SAYSKY Athlete Dougie Musson from the UK is running his first Marathon in the Elite Men’s section at the London Marathon 2021 on Sunday, October 3.
Dougie has been part of the SAYSKY Athlete team for the last 2 years, and has been running at an elite level and competing internationally for the past 10 years.
From his perspective, the marathon has a special place in the running community, and is arguably the most feared and recognised distance. He loves the unpredictability that everyone shares on the start line - whether you’re elite or a first-timer. Everyone’s in the same boat.
If you are curious about Dougie’s preparation and motivation for the marathon elite debut, please read below.
Could you start by introducing yourself and your running history?
Hi I am Dougie, I’m an athlete based in the UK. I’ve been a Saysky athlete for the last 2 years and I have been running at an elite level and competing internationally for the past 10 years. I started running in school, doing cross country and track, over the years as I have improved and spent more time training I have represented Great Britain and England in numerous races at different disciplines.
Why the marathon?
The marathon has a special place in the running community, it is arguably the most feared and recognised across any level runner. Personally, I love the unpredictability that everyone shares on the start line - whether you’re elite or a first-timer. Everyone’s in the same boat. It’s also really hard and really cool. Marathon running has been made cool in recent years with some of the incredible times and breakthroughs we have seen. If there was ever a time that the marathoners were allowed to sit at the cool table, it’s now!
When did you start training for this marathon?
This marathon build has been about 12 weeks worth of specific work. Prior to that the focus was general conditioning, maintaining fitness and most importantly keeping injury free! It has been 12 weeks worth of specific work, since making the switch from track racing to the roads, but the marathon has been on my mind for a little while, so mentally I’ve been building up to the marathon for a lot longer.
What does your training program look like on a weekly basis?
The weeks throughout this build have been relatively similar, they would normally consist of mostly long, easy running, spending lots of time on feet and getting my legs used to being tired. Wednesday and Sunday were the main session days with bigger volume or focus on speed. Wednesday sessions would be on the track aiming to run at 10K pace or quicker getting the legs turning over fast. Sunday is the long run, a big volume session that is marathon specific, trying to replicate the race, practice taking on drinks and fueling.
Having to get used to marathon training, we didn't have a rest day every week. I allowed the body to recover by slowing down the pace, running on softer surfaces such as grass and getting more sleep on these days.
- Monday: 6.5 miles in the morning / 8 miles in the evening.
- Tuesday: 5 miles in the morning / 10 miles in the evening.
- Wednesday: 2 miles in the morning / 7 mile continuous track session of 400m in 70 seconds, 400m in 90 seconds. 16 miles total in the evening.
- Thursday: 12.5 mile in the evening.
- Friday: 12.5 miles in the morning including a 4 mile block at 5:22 minute per mile pace.
- Saturday: 10 miles in the morning.
- Sunday: 2 hour long run with 1 hour at 5:29 minute per mile pace and 1 hour at 5:04 minute per mile pace 25 miles total for the run.
The total for the week was 107 miles, with 3,414ft of elevation gain.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Motivation is so unique to everyone, for me it’s simply about remembering why I am putting myself through this training, knowing that on 9:30 Oct 3rd, the gun is going to go off and I’ll be on that starting line, so I better turn up ready, or not at all. There is a Japanese term called ‘Kaizen’ which means continuous improvement, it comes from the world of business and it’s a philosophy to always seek ways to change for the better. I try to adopt this into all areas of my life, and of course into my training, asking myself what can I do to continuously improve.
How do you prepare yourself up to the race?
I’ve been fortunate to line up on some cool races over the years, and for me the final preparations are something I try not to think about too much. I try to focus on just feeling as good and rested in my body as possible, if that means slowing things down a lot, or taking another rest day then so be it!
When it comes to the final moments on the day of the race, I keep everything simple and the same as it has been in training. I‘ll keep my breakfast the same as it has been, keep the timings the same too, my kit will all be ready from the night before and then just try and switch off and listen to some music before it’s time to warm up. As I’m lining up on the start-line, it’s a great moment to reflect on what you have been through in the last few weeks of training, and longer all to get to this point. I’ll say to myself that I chose to be here and I’ll look down at a bracelet I wear which has the word ‘stay’ printed onto it, which is a great reminder when racing or in life to stay in the moment, or stay with whatever emotion or feeling I have. Sometimes I need to think about staying present or motivated when it gets hard, or to stay patient and humble in the early stages of a race, and of course to stay brave and believe in yourself.
What are your expectations for the big day?
I expect to find out a lot about myself as a runner and a person. My aim on the day is to run the best race I’m capable of, for me that will include, running smart, being patient and not being afraid to commit yourself and shoot for something big! Of course, everyone goes by time and personal bests, so getting a strong time on the board is something I’m there to do. We have some great opportunities to qualify for Great Britain at the World and European Champs as well as the Commonwealth Games next year, so running fast and snagging a qualifying time is on the agenda!
The marathon and often any road race, are a place of real connection between runners, the buzz, excitement and anticipation is almost tangible on race day, simply being part of a spectacle like that is truly beautiful. A place where the worldwide running tribe can come together, run as one and share in the atmosphere of race day, I couldn’t be more proud to wear the SAYSKY singlet on race-day, a company who appreciates, celebrates and embraces runners from across the globe.