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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 March, 2005, 14:04 GMT
Flu upsets four-hour ambition

By Sir Steve Redgrave
Five-time Olympic rowing gold medallist

There is now only four weeks left to go until the London Marathon and I'm in the unknown at the moment about how I will be able to perform on the day.

I have only done one training run in the last two weeks after coming down with flu. I ran for 45 minutes at a very, very low pace and I felt pretty rough at the end of it.

Sir Steve Redgrave
A bout of flu has cast doubt over Steve's target time in the marathon

That's not unusual when you come out of an illness and back into training again.

But I'm obviously disappointed because the first five or six weeks of my schedule went really well.

Despite being knocked off my feet for two weeks by illness, I know if I carry on with my training programme I will be able to complete the race.

What I don't know is if I will be able to achieve my target of breaking the four-hour barrier.

The next two weeks will be all about assessing how well I'm coming back to fitness and into the running regime.

I'm supposed to be taking part in a 16m event in Kingston this week but right now that does not sound very promising.

The advantage is there are two runs going on at the same event so athletes can either do 8m or 16m.

I signed up for the event because I thought it would be a good warm-up for the marathon especially to try and get the pacing right for the race.

People seem to be much more aware of the potential shape I could be in 24 hours after the marathon than I am

My plan of action now is to take the first lap very steady and assess how I feel. I'm not putting any pressure on myself and I won't be disappointed if I can only manage 8m.

The problem with being ill is that it is not the same as suffering an injury where you get still do some sort of cardiovascular work.

Being laid out with the flu meant all I was trying to do was get my general health back together.

As usual there are all the usual distractions of everyday life that, along with the illness, have meant my marathon plans have taken a back seat.

I've not really been thinking about my diet, although I am trying to drink more water than I normally do just to stay hydrated.

I don't drink much alcohol anyway so my drinking habits have been the same, although I did have some Guinness when I was in Ireland on business this week.

But I am making a conscious effort not to fill up my diary too much in the week leading up to the marathon.

I've had quite a lot of requests to attend dinner and charity events but it would be too much to do all that and prepare to run 26 miles.

Sir Steve Redgrave congratulates Sir Matthew Pinsent after his Athens victory
Redgrave and Pinsent will be reunited in a boat - the day after the marathon

As for after the marathon, well, Matthew Pinsent has made sure I won't get any time to put my feet up.

The pair of us promised we would take two people out for a social row at Henley as an auction prize for the British Olympic Association.

Not only have I not rowed for two years but this event has been arranged for the day after the marathon on 18 April.

People keep asking me, "are you sure you can do this?"

They seem to be much more aware of the potential shape I could be in 24 hours after the marathon than I am. Maybe I should start panicking too.

  • This year Steve will donate all the proceeds from his London Marathon efforts to victims of the tsunami.

    Steve will be writing a regular column on the ups and downs of his marathon training for the BBC Sport website.

    He will be raising money through the Steve Redgrave Trust which supports the Association of Children's Hospices, the Children With Leukaemia charity, and the Trust's own project which aims to provide inner-city schools with rowing equipment.

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