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'No matter how much you've trained, you're plagued with self-doubt'
With six weeks to go until the 2018 Dublin Marathon, The42′s Ryan Bailey is preparing to compete in the capital for the second time.

IT’S GENUINELY HARD to believe how quickly it has come around again, even when you think you’ve set out the best-laid plans. There are now just six weeks to go until the 2018 Dublin Marathon and I don’t know about anyone else, but already those pre-race nerves are kicking in.

Just in case we needed a reminder, an email from the race organisers dropped into inboxes last week with confirmation of wave details, pacers and race number pickups, which, if truth be told, was a jarring prompt to begin that final stage of training sooner rather than later.

You see, the mistake I made this time 12 months ago was condensing a three-month training programme into a three-week period, and while I completed my first marathon relatively unscathed in three hours, 30 minutes, I had promised myself I wouldn’t do the same again.

But if the true definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then I’m testing that theory in my preparations for this year’s Dublin Marathon, as I bid to break the three-hour mark on 28 October.

Okay, training has been a lot more consistent this year and if you read any of my previous columns, you will know that I had built up a lot more miles in the early stages of the summer, with a particular emphasis on ensuring there would be no walls hit around the 20-mile mark.

I last competed in late July at the Irish Runner 10 Miler in the Phoenix Park, a race which went relatively well given it fell in the middle of our glorious heatwave, and I headed away to America on holiday with the building blocks in place.

Now, originally, the plan was to fit in my first triathlon as part of Avonmore’s Follow Fitness campaign with The42, but due to a number of reasons, I have instead decided to focus solely on the 26.2 miles around the capital at the end of next month.

In truth, that suits me better as running is the discipline I enjoy the most and would like to consider myself strongest at, but that’s not to rule out a triathlon at any stage in the near future. It just didn’t happen this summer.

Instead, I’m putting all my energies into training for the marathon and those preparations will hit an important juncture this Saturday with the Dublin Half Marathon taking place in the Phoenix Park.

By way of comparison, I didn’t do the half marathon last year, so I’m looking forward to the race itself but, most importantly, the indicator of fitness levels and times it will provide heading into the last five weeks of training.

After a break from running for a few weeks for that aforementioned trip to the States, I’m feeling good again and believe the intense block of training in the early months of the summer have put me in a good position heading into Saturday, and then October.

There have been a few niggles a long the way, including the dreaded blister problem, but the break served me well and after a couple of long runs [18 and 20km] over the last two weekends, things are building nicely. 

Having experienced everything good about the Dublin Marathon last year, and reassured myself I have the running capacity to negotiate the 26.2 mile course, I am definitely more relaxed this year, and enjoying the build-up more.

But there is also room for some nerves, and that starts again this Saturday in the Park, before the serious business approaches. No matter how much you’ve trained and how many times you’ve done it, you’re plagued with self-doubt and the doubts always reverberate. 

That’s just all part of it, though, and nothing beats that feeling at the finish line. It’s just 41 days away now. Hard to believe, but it can’t come quick enough. 

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