As mentioned in my last blog, I made a New Year’s resolution this year to run my first ever marathon in May. Now that I am officially signed up for it, it has finally hit me that I am going to have to go through with this. Which is slightly intimidating, to say the least…However, rather than trying to imagine how my legs can possibly carry me the distance of a full marathon, my strategy is to focus on the immediate task of following a training plan. Fortunately, I have been provided with one by my experienced husband who also happens to be training for a marathon taking place the week after mine. Yes, we are training side-by-side, sharing the triumphs and the failures as we tick off the days.
Many people will have started the New Year with the best of intentions by making a change in their diet or taking on a new challenge. Whether it’s Dry January, Tri-January, or Veganuary, if you’d made this far it is about to become even trickier. Almost 3 weeks in, you will be about to meet a fork in the road right when the shiny appeal of your commitment is beginning to wear off. At this crossroads, most are hit by the sudden stark realisation that what you signed up is difficult and must face the mother of all confidence wobbles.
The temptation to take the easy route and give up can be almost overwhelming. It is always going to be more comfortable going back to the familiar territory of your old habits. There will be many others alongside you doing the same. But if you are still up to the challenge of your New Year’s resolution, how do you find the motivation to take the more difficult road, especially when it’s an unknown route?
As some people may know, I like to participate in the odd running event for fun and over the years, have managed to complete several half-marathons. I never thought I would say it, but I quite like running this distance. Mainly because of the broad range of people and abilities taking part, including many of those wearing fancy dress. There will always be some seriously speedy competitors at the front of the pack kitted out in the latest high-tech trainers but they definitely do not make up the majority of runners. Which means that the whole event feels less like being part of a ‘race’ against each other and more like running in the middle of a giant wave of like-minded participants that surges forward past the crowds.
But despite the all-embracing, tree-hugging inclusion with motivational cheering of half-marathons, you cannot hide the fact that there are also 21km of hard slog to contend with. Not everything always goes to according to plan on the day, despite your best efforts, and I am no different. In fact, it is fair to say that my experience of running half-marathons has been very mixed…
If you are a runner, it is not unusual to be married to fellow runner because like attracts like. Some may attribute this to the law of attraction while others believe it has more to do with sharing the innate ability to overlook mud, sweat and Lycra in a mate. However, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have the time to go for a run together, especially during the working week. Most runners find it difficult enough to find some time to fit in a workout for themselves, let alone trying to coordinate with their partner’s commitments. Add some children with their busy school and social lives to contend with and it is even harder. Which means that a runner will often go for a workout on the same day and even at the same time as their partner but in totally different places. Without knowing, the runs may even take place in unison. And if one of you travels occasionally for work, your runs may even be mirroring each other in different countries.
Unsurprisingly, most runners love nothing more than to talk about their run and compare notes. Which is why no one can resist sending a post-run text with related emojis and GIFs to express how it went. Why wait for the chance to rehash a workout once home from work when you can instantly share with an exhausted face, that you are knackered? Often my post-run texts cross paths with my husband’s and we both know what we will be talking about later, at length, over the dinner table. It’s like getting a text sneak preview before sitting down to the main feature, later. But there are times when our post-run texts do not reveal very much and a similar sounding run may, in fact, be very different. This is never more apparent than when you foolishly try to recreate your partner’s run based on their post-run text.
It’s hard to believe that it is already May and we are well into the Spring. Although there is one thing that reminds me that despite the unpredictable weather, change is in the air. Or rather, there has been a ‘change of air’ as there is something that is now, thankfully, absent. No longer am I greeted with the unmistakeable thick stench of abandoned muddy rugby boots every time I cross my front door. Strangely, there always seems to be more pairs of boots and empty gumshield cases than children in my household. But I don’t dare open any unfamiliar looking boot bags among the heap, lest I disturb their murky contents.
For now, though, it is safe to breathe in deeply and enjoy the Spring air. Rugby season has finally finished, which means some temporary relief from the particular ‘rugby smell’ that can assault your nostrils when you least expect it. It will be almost 5 months before the season begins again and one of my children will be forced to delve through the dirty kit in search of their missing gumshield. But this doesn’t mean that I will now be able to put up my feet and try to remember what we used to do on the weekend before spending it on the sidelines. For my family, the end of one sport always kickstarts the next and since it’s Spring, it can only be athletics and the beginning of track season.