It’s taken a while, but I finally feel like I’m training again. It all started while I was driving home from our post Bontride family holiday, way back at the start of April. I’d had a week of recuperation; feeling refreshed and was looking for the next target.
I can wholeheartedly blame my wife for what came next. I was unsure what to do next, a triathlon was my first thought. I have had a half ironman in my sights for a long time, ever since I started racing triathlons, actually it’s the full fat ironman that I have been eying up, but with young kids I can’t – or won’t – justify the training time. My thinking was an end of season olympic distance building to do a half next season. This is where my wife intersects and alters the direction of my thinking; suggesting I do something I haven’t done before, something like a marathon. A marathon, hmmm.
A quick check of dates and a clear favourite is found. The Eden Marathon, running in October should give me plenty of time to get my running up to it; I haven’t run consistently for the best part of a year, so I know I have some work to do. The positives of doing the Eden Marathon are that while I’m running the wife and kids have something to do, you get a pasty when you finish, and – as the Eden Half was my first half marathon – I know what to expect. The negatives are – having run the half a few years ago – I know what to expect, a tough hilly multi terrain race into my running unknown. I have done tough, hilly multi terrain races before – Drogo 10, Oh My Obelisk! and Man Vs Horse spring to mind – but these are 10 milers and half marathons. This is the big daddy, the go to running test (note: for this the notion of ultras has been removed to add grandeur).
By the end of April I had paid my dues and entered. What came next was a flurry of training plan downloading and panic training. I will admit that panic training nearly six months prior to an event is absurd, in the extreme – but I really haven’t run properly, or at all if I am totally honest, for a year and I wanted to get fit enough to start training! Over the next few weeks I run, and I run and I… feel a tightness in my calf, give it a week, run some more. This kind of continues until it goes properly and I accept that I have pulled my bloody calf.
I have given it three whole weeks of rest, by rest I mean no running – at all. Gingerly I’ve started up again. 4km, rest. 5km, rest. I build up to 10km and, beginning to regain a bit of confidence in the calf, I start to double up on runs and a pattern is beginning to form. This feels like training. Actual structured, not just panic, training.
I have noticed that while I was struggling with my calf, particularly when I was running again but not really trusting it, I found a whole other topic to think about. This displacement centred on the use of music. When I train (running) I always go alone, and as a result I listen to music. I have however never been tempted to race to music. Then again I have never run a marathon either. Running for a couple of hours without something to listen to is palatable, but what about four hours or more? Would I send myself mad with my own company? (I’ve sent my wife mad, so why not myself?). One of the reasons I haven’t thought about racing to music is I like the camaraderie, the gallows humour and the support from the crowd – even at smaller races you get an impressive amount of friends and family willing to brave even inclement conditions to cheers on their loved ones, and as a result create an atmosphere for the other ‘athletes’ too.
The other thing that began to concern me, as it still does, is my weight. I’m no DTS (Danger To Shipping, a ‘medical term’ used by doctors to be disparaging subtly on the ward) but I am defiantly carrying too much timber to drag around for 26.2 miles. I have no idea, and have no desire to find out, what my body fat percentage is but it’s higher than I would like it to be. As the mileage goes up I hope the bulk goes down. What will help this is that the training feel good factor will hopefully replace the ‘oh look a biscuit’ factor.
So this is where I’m at. I am well behind on where I need to be, where I want to be, and where I might have been if I hadn’t got injured – or accepted I was injured from the start. Breaking the 10 mile barrier has been a milestone. Up to now the longest training run ever has been 10 miles (or just under), so when I clocked a run which was – admittedly only marginally – over 10 miles is quite a psychological boost, I’m now into uncharted training territory – which training for your first marathon should be, surely.
It’s not quick; it’s certainly not pretty; but I’m getting there. It’s just a matter of will I get there in time? Time, as they say, will tell