A Thing I thought I'd never do!

by Juliette

I’m not sure about you but there are things in life that I never thought I would do. I never thought I would favour Radio 2, I never thought I’d get gripped on The Archers, I never thought I’d embarrass my kids and I NEVER thought I’d run a marathon.

Well in less than 2 weeks’ time that is what I’m intending to do. Along with 1000s of others, many of whom will also be running the 26.2 miles for the first time, my 42 year old self will be lining up at the start of the Virgin London Marathon. I feel excited but mainly petrified, a bit like how I felt when I first went into labour, only this time I won’t have a gorgeous new being at the end, just my old decrepit body that will no doubt be a hobbling wreck. But I will have a MEDAL!

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I have to say I’ve learnt many a thing training for this marathon:

  1. I can actually do something I never thought I could (barring any injury /freak accident/ sudden illness/natural disasters etc in the next 10 days). We are capable of amazing feats once we put our minds to it and our bodies are incredible. Yes despite me moaning about stiff joints in the morning, tired limbs and achy muscles, the body recovers and before you know it, I’m back out pounding the pavements. No matter what distance, if it’s a challenge for you then rise to it and be determined.
  2. The importance of a plan: my printed out plan is currently stuck on one of my kitchen cupboards. I’m clearly the type who needs a plan as I’m not confident enough to go off and just do what feels right which may come with experience. I encourage anyone who is considering starting a challenge, whether it’s running that first mile, doing couch to 5k or any longer distances to use a plan that fits with your lifestyle and stick like glue to it. This is especially important if like me, you use any excuse to get out of something. Plus there’s a lot of satisfaction to be had with ticking off the runs/weeks completed with a MASSIVE MARKER PEN!
  3. The thought of something is often worse than the reality: given the choice I would never run in the pouring rain, but strangely, when it’s down on the plan that I need to run that day, I go, come rain or shine. Equally, running at 6 am because there’s no other time in the day free, is strangely uplifting once you know that’s what you have to do. You also get to feel incredibly smug and go around all day telling everyone you were up running at 6 am whilst they were luxuriating in their beds!
  4. Importance of a positive mental attitude. A few years back I tried to enter ½ marathon races twice before and both times I pulled out in advance due to physical niggles. Maybe pulling out was justified but I find I often go into things assuming I’ll fail, this then becomes self-fulfilling. So I decided at the start of my marathon training, I will be positive and not let these negative thoughts chip away at me. “I will do this”, I may not get the time I want but that’s not failing, I’ll still have run a bloody long way and the months of training will be worth it as long as I finish.
  5. You will have setbacks – no plan is bullet proof, you may get ill along the way, you may have injuries BUT try not to panic. It doesn’t usually mean it’s all done for! It may just mean tweaking the plan or re-adjusting your targets or timeframe. My old achilles issue that stopped me doing the ½ marathon years back has flared up this time, but I’m religiously following physio’s advice, stretching, massaging my feet every night (I tell you my feet get more attention than my husband!) and remaining positive.

The other less deep and meaningful things I’ve learned from training for a marathon are:

  • Always carry tissues with you. Seriously, the frequency of loo stops behind trees, bushes, bus stop shelters I’ve taken mean I’ve certainly given my dog a run for its money in the “marking territory” stakes
  • Sports massages are brutal but lordy lordy, what relief!
  • There are some very funny (and rude) podcasts out there that really distracted marathon02me from the tedium of long runs
  • Interval training is hard but worthwhile and makes the time go quicker
  • Yoga has helped me – you can stream Yoga programmes on You tube if you can’t get to a class
  • The first 2 minutes of a 10 minute cold bath are the worst and then it’s ok, (top tips: read or distract yourself whilst in the bath and wear tops and hat to keep upper half of body warm)
  • Protein/recovery shakes after a long run really do pep you up
  • Eddie Izzard is a GOD.

So I will be on that start line on the 24th April, I will undoubtedly be overtaken by a rhino, an old man and someone dressed as a Storm Trooper, but I will finish. And I will be one of the million people to have completed the London Marathon. Not bad for someone who never thought she had it in her!!

Juls is running the London Marathon for Against Breast Cancer.