As I said, naïve.
On my first official training run I was quite smug. One chilly January morning I extended one of my longer routes to make it over 10 miles. Much to my joy I seemed to easily complete just over 13 miles. As I hobbled back to the house I was confident that this Marathon training malarkey was going to be a breeze.
I will say again, naïve.
Injury struck. No not the running kind. That would be too straight forward. Walking back from sledging with my sons, I slipped backwards onto an icy patch and landed straight on my coccyx. When my children finally stopped laughing they had the grace to ask if I was ok. At that point adrenaline was pumping through my body. It hurt, but my ego was ever so slightly more bruised at that point. After a stint in the A&E Department, it was confirmed that it was indeed a suspected fracture and to rest. And in the words of the A&E Doctor “If it hurts, don’t’ do it”.
This injury grumpily set me back a few weeks and therein lay the start of my injury hell.
When finishing my first “tester” run a few weeks later the whiplash that is ongoing in my neck decided to pop up and say hello. When that left me, an old metatarsal injury decided to look me up. When that left after being satisfied with the amount of pain inflicted on me the arch of my foot began to throb after each run.
“They” say you will never see a happy runner. From the initial back injury until three weeks ago this was true in my case. I continued with my training runs because I had to. It is only now, that the injuries have all decided to take a break (can I blame them in this weather?), that I have been left to train in peace.
So with the Brighton Marathon now just over a week away I can happily say that even without setting foot in Brighton, that I have earned my medal.
A friend and fellow runner once said to me at the end of one cold, injury induced 17 mile training run “this is what they don’t see”. Whilst the “they” in the sentence was the well wishers, crowds and sponsors, let me take some time to share with you what the “this” is all about…..
It’s about the bi-weekly 5am starts, which really start the night before where you are frantically trying to drink your body weight in water to hydrate yourself enough for the run the next morning (which also results on bi-hourly trips to the loo in the night). It's dressing in layers to accommodate the cold morning, only to regret the layers as the sun rises and the pace quickens. It’s finding places to keep your phone, gels, headphones, tissues, plasters and water bottle that won’t prevent rub and ruin (this is NEVER prevented..!) It’s the fear and mental battle of that first mile, where you know you still have so far to go. It’s the panic of the first two miles where your pace is too slow/fast to maintain this for the duration. It’s the battling of road junctions where EVERY car seems to want to turn in or out of that junction at the exact time you go to run across it. It’s the full bladder mid run and deciding whether the pain of that, is less than the pain it will be to find somewhere to hide and wee. It’s the aching arms and swollen fingers from your upper body being in the same position, then deciding to “hang low” for a bit therefore giving off a Rocky Balboa boxing run motion. It’s about over enthusiastic dogs who HAVE to run at your ankles and the inconsiderate owners who let them. It’s about pedestrians on the path and bikers on the cycle ways (how dare they share the same space?). It's about mouthy teenagers who jeer at you as you run, and drivers who beep at you as they pass (this is not encouragement if anyone reading this does this….just irritating!). It’s about running out of tissues and using your gloves/sleeves as a substitute and trying to hide the fact that you are doing something SO disgusting but necessary. It’s about curbs from mile 18, hills from mile 19 and from mile 20, pretty much just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s about changing your running style mid run JUST so you can get a different sound to listen to. It’s about rain, wind, snow, ice, frost, sun or sleet. It’s about praying the weather is “ideal” for your run but doing it anyway because you have to. It’s about blisters, nipple rub and chafing of any skin touching clothing. It’s about how at about mile 20 you would give ANYTHING for a hot bath and a massage. It’s about sacrificing time with your family when time is precious. It’s about relying on family when their time is precious.
This may sound horrifying to someone who does not run distances. But there will be a nod of familiarity about most of this from fellow runners.
“So why do it?” you may ask.
Now THAT is hard to explain. And something that only a runner can answer on a personal level. For me, at this time it’s about 26.2 scenic miles around Brighton. It’s about raising money for the millions of Multiple Sclerosis sufferers around the world who will benefit from the donations and it’s about living a life that most of these sufferers can only dream of. It’s about passion.
So as I enter into my tapering stage of training (rest – FINALLY!) please take a look at my sponsorship page. Please give what you can and please take the time to read up on the MS Society – they do good!