19 Jan 2017

The Marathon Diaries #1: 13 weeks to go...

I probably use Instagram now more than any other social media platform. It’s the first app I open when I wake up and the last one I check before I go to sleep, so it’s where I’ve been documenting my marathon training the most. 

‘Marathon training’. Every time I say it, or type it out, I choke. MARATHON. TRAINING. 

I like posting photos on Instagram of my new running gear, running routes, progress, good meals, and connecting with other runners so we can spur each other on. Instagram is pretty, and Facebook and Twitter are definitely not pretty. 

But I’m a writer by trade and by passion, and as this marathon *CHOKES* gets ever closer, I need a bigger outlet. I need to write about the fact I’m RUNNING THE FECKIN’ LONDON MARATHON IN 93 DAYS’ TIME. 

So, here I am. Hello, welcome back to my blog. Welcome back to my breakdown; this time of my feet/legs/hips, and not my head. A nice change.
If you don’t know the story of how I came to agree to run the London Marathon, here’s what you missed:
  • In April 2016 I ran my first parkrun, and thus, 5k. 
  • Also in April 2016 I was featured in Mind’s GetSetToGo campaign where I banged on about how running is incredible for your head. 
  • ALSO ALSO in April 2016 Heads Together (formed by The Royal Foundation - the charity of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry) announced they were to be the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017’s charity of the year, bringing together eight partner charities to improve the conversation around mental health, including the charity I work for - The Mix.
  • *deep breath* ALSO ALSO ALSO in April 2016 I was asked if I’d be The Mix’s head runner. I thought about it a LOT, then said yes. For my sins. I ended up on TV in this film during the 2016 London Marathon as part of the Heads Together announcement. There was no going back now…
  • In July 2016 I ran my first 10k race.
  • In January 2017 I started marathon training.

And here we are.

I’m following this 16 week training plan. I knew I had to follow a plan this time instead of winging it, but didn’t know which would be right for me nor which one to trust, so I chose the 'first-time finisher' plan on the Virgin Money London Marathon website. A quick google of other plans, tips, and nutrition support just ended up in me cowering under my duvet as all these websites shouted different things at me. If I’m going to do this marathon, I’m going to do it in the calmest way possible. I just want to cross the finish line, damn it. Slow and steady. 

It’s going… well. I’m coming to the end of week three and I’m feeling good. I’ve stuck to the schedule, I'm actually IMPROVING (I knocked a full 10 minutes off my initial 7km run time today - pretty smug), I’m eating well, and I’m trying to swim amongst all the running which feels awesome on my poor legs and feet. 

But it’s only the beginning, and I’m very aware of that. From February, the long Sunday runs are going to ramp up quickly. I’ll be nearing a half marathon before I know it. And boy did I struggle with October’s half marathon race. But I feel more prepared now, and this is NOT a race. I go slow. I learnt lessons during that half marathon (mainly that I needed new shoes, so I got my running analysed at Runners Need over Christmas and treated myself to some beautiful, comfy, mildly expensive new Saucony Ride 9s) and I’ll remember them during training. I won’t beat myself up. I won’t compare myself. I won’t overwhelm myself. I’ll have fun and remember why I’m doing this: to support my head, to support my body, and to support others. To prove that I am, and you are, in control and can do anything…

…and to get more selfies like this one but that’s a minor point:

I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be so involved in this year’s London Marathon. Over the last nine months I’ve attended some wonderful events, chatted one-on-one to the Royals about the importance of this mental health campaign, had my voice heard in national media interviews, and soon will be giving my own speech in front of A LOT OF PEOPLE at a Heads Together event in February. 

There’s a lot more to this marathon than running, and I’m ready for it all. 

Bring it. (After a sleep, I'm exhausted.)

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