7 days to go…

Today marks one week to go until I take part in my first, and quite possibly only, full marathon. I say “only” because I do think my body has long had enough of the sheer distance required in order to fully prepare for a run of such a daft distance.

Since my last post, I’ve run a rather sore and slow 12 miles (shortened from 20) and more slow but much more comfortable 20 miles and finally, at least for the long runs, a nice 10 miles along the Thames Path from Reading.

I actually had planned to run 8 miles this weekend but an injury while running Parkrun put paid to that. Which was pretty annoying really because everything else about that run went well. I kept at more or less my marathon pace except for a dash up the final stretch. That dash included my fastest ever 400m run but at some stage something went though so I now have a sore heel and stiff ankle. Not great timing.

Today we went down to the start/finish area for next week’s run, and partly relying on our recollections from my doing the final leg of the relay event last year tried to think about what it’ll be like. Trying to imagine the emotions – yes there’ll probably be tears – trying to imagine the exact route of the start and the finish. Trying to recall whether the cobbles around the area are covered up – I checked my video from last year: they were covered over.

Just getting into my head that it’s nearly here and despite what my heel and foot say I’m nearly ready to do this.

This could be a very long week…

Training and being an inspiration…?

As I write this there is 1 month and a handful of hours until I take part in my first ever full marathon. I’ve grown to respect and even quite like it’s younger half marathon brother but the full one hasn’t until relatively recently been “a thing” I might do.

But it’s certainly got very real lately. I suppose ever since I changed the pace I undertook my slow long run on a Sunday I’ve started to take the distance a little more seriously. Back at the end of July I did a quickish 12 mile run in a little over 2 hours but since then I’ve made a concerted effort to run slower. Whilst at the time it’s not wholly rewarding and those really long runs still feel hard because of the sheer time on your feet I think changing my training emphasis is helping.

My most recent long run was 18 miles and I covered it in what I thought at the time was a leisurely 3 hr 22 mins. However when I got back home I later discovered that if I ignore all race runs then the run contained my fastest ever 20km, Half-marathon and 25km efforts. I felt as bad as I felt after my first ever half (Silverstone 2014) but I was clearly building the distance and not a small amount of speed too.

Then tonight I felt like I flew along a 50 minute run. The steady distance seems to be helping all of my running. I’m quite looking forward to going back to the shorter distances again just to see if it will help those too.  But long, painful distance is where it’s at right now.

One thing that’s really quite surprised me about my training was the number of positive comments being made. At least three or four people this week alone have told me how impressed they are at my efforts and in one case how inspirational they find not only the marathon but the whole of the past year or so. You see, I don’t think of what I’m doing as special. I’m just running – enjoying my hobby if you like and as I’m not one of the fastest by some margin what I’m doing isn’t really remarkable.

Or is it? Maybe I should listen. I heard a while back that only 1% of the world’s population have ever completed a marathon. I hope to be joining some fairly exclusive company then. I guess I firmly believe that almost anyone could do what we have done and what I’ll be doing soon – all with the proper time and training of course – so when I hear how impressed someone is I’m still finding it unremarkable because it’s out there for everyone to get (injuries and bodies permitting).

But lately I have been just accepting the kind words, and I’m finding people will tell me how they tried once and couldn’t because of injury or time or something. I’m lucky that I can do what I’ve done because despite my sore ankles I’m doing ok. So yes maybe I can do something just a little bit special.  Maybe I can be an inspiration to someone.

But for now the slog of training continues. 20 miles this weekend and I’m expecting it to be tough. The next month will be very long indeed.