I’VE DECIDED TO RUN A MARATHON

I’ve decided to run a marathon.

No, you’re not dreaming and no, I’m not drunk: yesterday I signed up to run Edinburgh Marathon in May 2019.

I coughed up £74 (price includes event t-shirt which you can be damn sure I paid for because the branded kit is basically the entire reason that I’m doing it in the first place) and with that I sealed my fate.

I have seven months to prepare this totally ill-equipped body of mine for a marathon: 26.2 miles of running hell.

This is not a blog post I ever imagined myself writing, because running a marathon was not something I ever envisaged myself doing. Even now, the weight of inevitability sitting heavily on my chest, I’m still not convinced there is any way in hell I will be able to complete even half of it.

Now anyone that’s been here for a while may remember the hell that ensued after I decided to run my first half marathon. My first and, until now, last half marathon.

You can read the post I wrote about it here but if time is not on your side then I’ll catch you up: I didn’t train for it, ran a ten miler the week before I was meant to do the event (how??? WHYYYY?), hurt myself and hated the 13.1 miles as much as it’s possible to hate anything.

I did say though, high on endorphins and my most-run-pint I suspect, at the end of that one that I would one day do another one. It’s been eighteen months and I haven’t. It therefore seems only right that I make up for my apparent inability to follow-through with the ultimate HAHA-I’M ONE UPPING YOU and totally fuck myself over in the process.

In the coming months I will be running plenty of 10ks (I’ve only done one of these before, read about the first one I ever did here!), a couple of half marathons (ahaha after I hated the first one so much I must be mad) before the time comes for me to embark on the longest run of my life.

But how did I get here?

How did I get from the run/walk of my first 10k to the hell that was that half marathon that hurt so much to volunteering to do something so predictably painful???

Well, the reason, I suspect, is threefold. Or fourfold. Or fivefold. I’m not sure. Let’s chat it through and then we’ll know.

I respond well to pressure.  

Basically I love the idea of exercise but if there isn’t something on the horizon scaring the living shit out of me, I’m normally disinclined to persevere.

I’ll go for a swim, make myself giddy with the endorphins and excitement of it all, decide to celebrate my new-found-fitness with a bucket of wine and enough chocolate to put a dog into a coma and not go back for weeks and weeks.

Learning this about myself was life-changing if I’m honest.

Since deciding to run the marathon earlier this week I have been on one 10k run, been swimming twice, visited one Body Attack class and one Body Pump class. ALL IN ONE WEEK!

Although I suspect not every week will be anything like as successful as this one, psychologically knowing that I have something in the pipeline that I would absolutely not be able to complete without at least a spot of preparation, gives me purpose.

And I’ve been floating around recently, in desperate need of purpose. Which brings me nicely onto my second reason…

I need exercise for my mental health and I’m only now beginning to grasp the importance of that.

I have anxiety.

No shock revelation there, I talk about it all the clucking time (read my post about ‘accepting anxiety’ here), and recently I have become painfully aware of my mental health deteriorating.

I’m losing confidence in myself and my abilities, I’m not sleeping particularly well, I’m never particularly far away from tears and feel as if I’m being cuddled, constantly, by a cloud of lethargy.

No biggie and no sympathy required, we all have moods (I wrote about this last week) and these too shall pass, but I’d be a damn fool if I didn’t acknowledge that in order to make the positive changes I so badly need in my life, I must at least try to be the driving force behind them.

If dedicating myself to something that will require a fairly constant stream of endorphins and a reason to go outside and stay outside for large periods of time several times a week isn’t exactly the sort of positive change I need then I don’t know what is.

I finally love my body enough that I want to celebrate it. 

Here’s the sick bucket, I’m sorry that my cheese has caused you to throw up but I’m sorry: it’s true.

In the olden days (my teenage years), I exercised because I hated my body and I wanted to change it. Although, admittedly, exercise was not frequently on the agenda, when it was, it was not a positive addition. It would come after an hour of staring in the mirror and hating what I saw or because of the angry welts appearing on my stomach after I’d dug my fingernails so deeply into the soft flesh.

I would exercise because I didn’t like what I had going on and ironically enough, no one told me that when you exercise because you hate yourself, you are going to hate exercising.

Nothing good ever came from those miserable minutes on the treadmill as a teenager and endorphins have only been able to positively affect me since I learned the importance of exercising for my mind and allowing the changes to my body to be secondary.

Although there are still bits that jiggle and wiggle that I might, possibly, maybe be happier without, I’m finally content to let a body that I’m proud of be the byproduct of something that I did because I love myself to bits.

I might not love my feet after the marathon removes all of my toenails but as for the rest of it, I’m pleased as punch.

I watched my mum do an Ironman last weekend and it made me want to be amazing. 

I don’t know why this year was any different to the other seven, YES SEVEN, times I have watched her do an Ironman (yes, an Ironman is the one with the 2.4 mile swim, the 112 mile bike ride followed by the 26.2 mile run and yes she has done seven of them!!) but for whatever reason I felt absolutely inspired, after watching her cross the finish line 14 and a half hours after she started, to sign up for something epic.

I’m not insane, not totally at least, and couldn’t bring myself to sign up for one of these monstrosities, I have done a lot of cycling in my life thus far (six annual 360+ bike rides across Europe with Help For Heroes) and kind of feel a bit ~over~ that and if I’m honest, I don’t really like swimming.

Running it is. Too late for London and I’ve never been to Edinburgh before and have always wanted to go: two birds with one stone.

If not now, then when???

I’m 24 and aside from a spot of tendonitis in my left leg, I am in prime physical health.

I mentioned on Instagram at the airport on the way back from watching mum doing her Ironman that I might be tempted to do a marathon one day soon and my friend Steve commented to say that he’d do it with me.

And. Why. Fucking. Not.

I don’t want to be one of these people that has always wanted to do a marathon, I want to be the sort of person that has done one. I don’t want the inevitable pang of jealously I always experience as I watch streams of phenomenal people pound the London pavements on the telly. I don’t want to make a whole heap more excuses for myself.

In truth, I want to do something that I am really proud of.

I am surrounded by extraordinary people. Not just in my professional life, exposed to and friends with some of the most amazing writers and fantastically creative souls, but in my home life too. My mum has done eight Ironman competitions, my boyfriend did his first one last year and ranked in the top 10% of athletes world wide.

Having been involved closely with Help For Heroes since I was 11 I have seen people over coming the most life changing injuries to ride bikes and run marathons and just generally boss the shit out of whatever they turn their metaphorical hands to.

And that has set the bar pretty high.

To a lot of people in my life, the Ironman-variety in particular, this event is ‘just a marathon’, something that normally comes at the end of a long time on a bike and a bit of time splashing around in a wetsuit. To the friends I have made through H4H the fact that I have both my legs and all my health should, theoretically, make this ‘easy’ by comparison.

And in lots of ways, it will.

But, what I need to remember, is that this is MY race.

I will be running it with my friend Steve, a guy I know through Help For Heroes and one of the aforementioned inspirational over-comers, and I know that, thanks to my age and my health, it will probably be ‘easier’ for me than it will be for him, but I just don’t think it matters.

Because although we are running this together, this marathon, is my race.

Yes, I am totally self obsessed, thanks for noticing. 

To me, this will be everything.

The hardest thing I have ever done, the most challenging, the most life-changing.

And I’m really, really excited about it.

So for all of those reasons, I have decided to run a marathon on the 26th May 2019.

I will be looking after my mental health, showing my body that I adore it, pushing myself, grabbing life by the horns, making my mumma proud.

But most importantly, I think we can all agree, I’ll be getting a new t-shirt out of it, and if that’s not worth 26.2 miles of toe-nail losing, knee jarring, sweat-making hell, then quite frankly, I don’t know what is.

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1 Comment

  1. Natasza
    October 14, 2018 / 3:24 pm

    I was recently thinking how limited our options seem to be if we decide to devote our time to sports. Really, the only thing that is glorified, pushed upon and promoted is running, cycling and gym. Like if that was it. So, if you’re like me and you HATE running, you only cycle long enough for people to notice your colorful bike and have no idea how to use a single piece of equipment in the gym (and, quite frankly, you don’t find learning it appealing), you’re basically stuck believing you’re good for nothing or you end up running (and still hating it) because you don’t want to be a loser. And I came to that realization after I started ice-skating (yes, I’m 30 and I started ice skating) early this year. First recreationally and then with an instructor, which added the element of challenge (learning new steps, techniques and spins) and even an actual goal (we’ll be performing a dance choreo in the early spring at the end of the season event). So, the endorphines are there, the physical activity is there, I have challenges and goals but, most importantly, I just ENJOY THE ACT of it. I enjoy being on ice, I’m having so much fun, every week I’m looking forward to my lessons. And I believe everyone should be as happy exercising or training for whatever they’re training for. I am against the culture of “no pain, no gain”, I am against a notion of sport being something that should hurt because “it builds your spirit”. I’m against “pushing yourself beyond boundaries” just for the sake of it. While it’s great to challenge yourself and it is motivating to have a goal, I have a feeling a lot of people suffer through (or “power” through) the training for the sake of this challenge or goal. Like, people are proud they ran a marathon but don’t actually ENJOY the very act of running and this, to me, shouldn’t be the case. And there are so many wonderful sports that I’m pretty sure anyone could find something they could thoroughly enjoy, there is dancing, skate boarding, martial arts, skiing, bowling, table tennis, volleyball, basketball, the possibilities are endless and yet most of the population is doing one of the three “glorified” and “popular” activities like if they were be-all-end-all, one-size-fits-all type of sports. I hear so many people saying they hated running but now they “got used to” it. Just that. No fun, no excitement, they just hate it a little less and keep running because they hear it everywhere that’s the way it should be and it’s okay. It makes me sad people are doing it to themselves, I just wish everyone was as excited about their training as I am about mine.
    With all that being said, I’m full-on supporting you on your journey to run a marathon and I’ll be training alongside for my performance and then we can compare our experiences from the end-goal events, as they both fall in the spring. And you may get the branded gear, I’m getting a sparkly dress and that’s pretty hard to beat, I’d say!

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