Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable : Paul Marteletti

We end up doing a session and it’ll be like a 68:30, 69 half - as part of a session. Just getting to the end of those; sometimes your body’s a bit hammered, you know? You’re really struggling. You’ve got to dig deep in a session to even hit 69 pace, which is slower than what you’re trying to run in the marathon.

It’s things like that - doing it on a weeknight, you’re not tapered, you’re in a full training week. You get through that, and you know that when you’re in the marathon on the day it’s that much easier.

Paul Martelletti has been a totemic figure on the British distance running scene in recent years. A renowned high volume trainer and a prolific racer, he does things his own way, whether that means chasing fancy dress world records, racing internationally at 100km or tearing round a local parkrun.

He generally has something of a no holds barred attitude to racing - just look at his Power of 10 profile - but by contrast, the basis of his training is lots of really rather sedate distance.

The majority of my running is 7, 7:30 minute miling. Some might say it’s not easier enough, while other people are amazed that I’m running over two minutes slower than my marathon pace.

I just go out the door and run what feels comfortable. If I’m trying to push it and it doesn’t feel good, then it’s too quick.

As a high volume trainer and amateur, he ends up doing “95%” of his running on his own. While this could be seen as a disadvantage as compared to the full time runner who has training partners constantly available, Martelletti is energised by having company.

I just find it way easier with other people. Having done so many marathons and getting used to pacing and stuff, you get the feedback so you know what’s maintainable.

Generally, knowing his own body and mind well and tailoring his own unorthodox approach for his own enjoyment has served him extremely well.

Last year I did five [marathons] and ended up doing them all under 2:20, which I was quite happy with. I quite like doing a second one a few weeks after a main one - a bit of fun.

I seem to be able to bash them out. Last year I did 2:16 high at Berlin and then two weeks later 2:19.

Despite his record of maintaining such a workload, 2017 saw him on the start-line fewer times than in previous years as he sustained a sacral stress fracture. Even for Martelletti, multiple 200 mile weeks (“I don’t think that was exactly the cause but it was probably a contributor”) and an awkward collision during a parkrun proved too much. After years of relentless training and racing, he’s come to see the enforced rest as a positive.

I really appreciated the mental break I had from it. Rather than bashing out the miles all the time, I felt really good mentally from having that break, I felt refreshed.

The recharged Paul Martelletti bounced back with his third fastest marathon in autumn 2017. And then followed that up with third place in the Fuxian Lake Highland Ultramarathon in China, less than a week later.

As well as his typical smorgasbord of distances and terrains, Martelletti is especially keen in future to have a “proper go at the longer stuff”, and is eyeing up the all time lists at 100km. He found his debut at the distance “wasn’t too taxing” so who’d bet against him?