Well it has been a long 18 weeks of training to get here but I can finally say that last week, I ran my first ever marathon. It was a tough 42km but I survived it mostly unscathed except for a couple of my toes which are still very sore. After the race, I was naturally a bit nervous to take off my socks in the big reveal of my feet. I have to say that frankly, they are not for the faint-hearted having been battered, bruised and now modelling a rainbow of purple shades. But I don’t care or even mind wearing flip flops in the rain. I am still walking around in a marathon-induced happy haze as I continue proudly sporting my new technical t-shirt. At moments like these, when everything is still fresh in your head it can be helpful to take stock of what went well and what didn’t. After a marathon effort, I thought I would share 5 lessons learned about how to run one well. Continue reading
I cannot actually believe it but I am now only days away from running my first ever marathon. Up until now, I have mostly avoided thinking about the big day and just focused on following the training plan one week at a time without peeking ahead at what was coming up. But there was no avoiding getting caught up with watching the coverage of the London Marathon and some exceptional running by the winners, Brigid Kosgei and Eliud Kipchoge, who were simply flawless. They both looked completely relaxed as they powered over 26.2 miles, making it look incredibly easy. Of course, my eyes were also glued to the tens of thousands of other runners who were trying to make it to the end, including an exceptionally tall Big Ben on legs.
While the days tick off, I am officially ‘tapering’ which is said to be one of the most important parts of a marathon training plan. It seems counterintuitive to cut down on the training but reducing the mileage is supposed to allow your body to fully recover before the race so that you can reach your peak performance for the actual marathon. However, I am finding out that tapering means different things to different people.
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…