When I first told people that I had a place for the 2019 London Marathon the most common reaction (after ‘How exciting!’) was ‘Oh but the training will be a total nightmare‘. People couldn’t wait to tell me how gruelling it would be, how time-consuming, how isolating, how painful. So it was something of a pleasant surprise to find myself here, eight weeks in, absolutely loving every minute of my marathon training! Here are some of the things I’ve been enjoying so far:
The pride in my achievements
I HATED sport at school. I was never as good as anyone else, certainly never good enough to be picked for the sports teams. It made me think ‘What was the point?’. But recently, I’ve found so much joy in achieving new milestones, whether that be a PB at parkrun or running 10 miles for the very first time. I’ll never be a competitive athlete but I no longer care! I am genuinely proud of myself for everything I’ve achieved so far and can’t wait to see what else I can do!
The runners high
I had heard of the ‘runner’s high’ before but never really believed it was a real thing. When I first started running, each run was something to be battled through and endured. I was always pleased to have gone for a run, but I could never say I found the whole process enjoyable. Well I’m not sure really when that changed, but recently, I keep finding myself out somewhere for a run with a huge smile on my face! Even stranger, I keep forgetting that I’m actually running for several minutes at a time, until my watch buzzes to tell me another mile has passed by.
I’ve made so many new friends and connections since starting marathon training. It’s been wonderful to find groups of other first-time marathon trainees on Facebook and Twitter, an absolutely invaluable resource for sharing worries and picking up tips. I’m getting so much support and encouragement from more experienced runners, who all seem genuinely delighted with my progress, even the ones who run literally twice as fast as me!
The changes to my body and fitness
I can feel things starting to fall into place. One of my regular weekly runs now feels too easy and I’ve had to add in an extra lap. PB’s are tumbling, and the Garmin reports that my VO2max has improved to ‘Excellent’! Friends say that I’m ‘shrinking’, and I haven’t been this happy with my own reflection in the last four years since my second child was born. I find myself saying previously unimaginable statements like: ‘I have a race this weekend, but it’s not too bad, only a half!’
Living in surburban East London, the noise and bustle of busy city life can really get to you after a while. I’m lucky in that just 1km from my house, I can escape onto the Lea Valley canal, a beautiful waterway that stretches on for miles in either direction. Turning south, I can lose myself in the Walthamstow Wetlands; an expansive nature reserve full of nesting birds, or the green fields of Hackney marshes. Turning north takes me past a series of lock gates, with their passing canal boats gently rising or falling with the water level. A couple of hours out here in the early morning light, with hardly another soul in sight can really reconnect you to the world.
Finishing on a slightly more shallow note, I’ve really embraced the opportunity to expand my sportswear wardrobe! No longer content with just one pair of trainers and some gym kit, I’ve gone all in for top-of-the-line road shoes (2 pairs just in case!), trail shoes, and all combinations of hot and cold weather training clothes from vests and shorts to gloves and running jackets. Not to mention the accessories! Hydration belts, water bottles, all kinds of energy products, and a rather nice GPS watch too! It’s been nice to splurge on things I will actually get a lot of use out of!
With just over eight weeks to race day, I can’t wait to get stuck into the next phase of my training plan, with those all important super-long runs coming up soon!
You can read all about my training for the 2019 London Marathon here
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