In it for the long run: the first hurdle
As the end of January approaches, most of the population heaves a sigh of relief, glad to see the misery month draw to a close. But for us London Marathon wannabes it means the reality of what we’ve signed up for is setting in. All other New Year resolutions can go hang. There is only one thought in our heads: get with the programme.
The consensus seems to be that following a training schedule is the secret to finishing. By sticking to a disciplined build-up of miles, the theory is that by April 17th – when I join the other 36,000 or so runners lining up in Blackheath – I will be in some sort of fit state to take on the 26 miles and 385 yards ahead of me. Of course this all depends on how the next three months go. Can my dodgy Achilles hold out? Will I physically be able to find the time to fit in enough runs? And can I stay motivated, willing to dedicate this many hours of my life to running?
The running bug has gradually crept up on me over my adult years. I’ve always enjoyed exercise: I played hockey for my school and city, enjoy hiking and am very happy leaping around in an aerobics class. But ever since I did my first 5km Race for Life more than 15 years ago, I discovered the pleasure of running outside. As my job is sedate, it felt like the perfect antidote to my desk-bound sloth.
One 5km race led to another, and then it was a small psychological and physical leap to a 10km race, and so on. These days, no matter where you live, it is relatively easy to find races for all levels where even total novices can run without feeling embarrassed or inadequate.
The longest I have ever run is a half marathon, in Margate, four years ago. But even for that, fitting in the training with a young family was a struggle. Every hour off for a run was a negotiation; I’d be changing into my running gear as I was bathing the kids, shooting out of the door the minute my partner returned from work. But I followed the programme, did the training and loved every minute of the event. Although that said, I was very glad to be stopping at the 13 mile mark as exhausted and heavy-legged, I watched those signed up for the full marathon start the second leg of the course. So the idea of doubling my distance seemed an impossible goal and I put it on the back-burner until my kids were at school.
But the London Marathon has always been an ambition, and it gnawed away at me. Every year I’d watch it on TV, full of envy, admiration and raw emotion at the runners’ achievements — always reduced to tears. One year, while showing visitors the sights of London, we got caught up in it and stood transfixed for ages on Embankment as wave after wave of runners ran past.
Finally last year I secured a ballot place but had to defer it because I was recovering from a broken foot. This year there’s no holding back, and now I’m committed to writing this blog there’s no denying what I’m up to. My so far ambiguous mentions of ‘long runs’ to my friends are finally being shown up for what they really are.
So for those of us building up to the London Marathon in the by now well-established manner, this is the start of week five of the sixteen-week schedule. Leading up to Christmas and over the break I’d been running at least three times a week and my long run was around the nine mile mark. Last weekend my longest run was 11 miles. From here on in, I am adding a mile or so a week to get me up to 20 miles shortly before the actual race.
This blog will follow the highs and lows of my attempts to complete my first marathon, blisters and all!Tagged in: exercise, London Marathon, runner, running, training
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