Doing a marathon had always been on my bucket list but whenever the idea came to the fore, the sheer amount of training necessary in preparation had always put me off. This time somehow was different and I couldn’t find any obstacles to throw in the way. The mantra for our amazing team soon became ‘run, eat, sleep, repeat’ as we bolstered each other’s morale through the dark yet unusually mild winter months! Everything else in our world quite naturally faded into distant obscurity as we focused on the job in hand – to do the required training to get us round the twenty-six miles of the track.
Mental and physical preparation
But it isn’t only about putting the hours of training in, as I was acutely aware of. You have to prepare yourself to withstand the physical and mental endurance that you are about to go through. From a physiological point of view, exercising on an empty stomach meant that when the day of the marathon finally arrived, my body had become extremely energy-efficient . The added bonus was that I would not experience ‘runner trots’ because my digestive system had nothing there to deal with. I had had my last meal at 6pm the evening before and didn't feel the need to eat again until a long time after the race. I knew I wouldn't need to rely on energy boosters to get me round although kind people along the way were handing out all manner of tempting sugary snacks to encourage us on. I hoped I would not hit ‘the wall’ mostly because I thought it might show a weakness in my preparation strategy but I didn't because I had become very efficient at burning fat. I also had a strong sense that despite some initial nerves I wanted to be as ‘emotionally coherent’ as possible to avoid any undue stress on my body. I worked hard in the weeks preceding the marathon to train myself to shift any negative emotions before my runs.
Me playing up to the camera when I spotted my friends
What I realise now in hindsight is that we can consistently underestimate what is possible for ourselves. And I for one am guilty of that! Two months before the marathon, disaster struck as I developed a dreaded sports injury in my right calf, known in the trade as ‘achilles tendinopathy’. Normally this would have been a signal to give up as I was forced to stop running. Our team had already been diminishing steadily due to injuries sustained . But this time I had committed to something so much bigger than myself that sheer determination had to get me through. After some great professional advice, strengthening exercises, a lot of cycling and using all the tools in my professional toolbox, my personal triumph was to be able to run the whole marathon with minimal pain and huge pleasure. Although I may have hobbled Quasimodo-style over the finish line and probably had been for the last few miles, I felt triumphant.
The whole experience showed me that sometimes we should push beyond the average goals that we set ourselves. We don’t always realise that we can achieve something way beyond our own and everyone else’s expectations. But what a powerful feeling when you do!