The decision to run a marathon

21 August 2013, 17:52

Non-runners have been asking me for years “So when are you going to run a marathon?” I suppose they saw that I saw fairly often, had competed in 10km and half marathon races, and seemed to enjoy running, and to them this was a logical progression.

To me however, I was perfectly fine running these other distances, where there was plenty of challenge in the speed/pacing, terrain, route, and all the other nuances that make racing so much of an unknown quantity, and no real need to lose my entire life for months, slave to the marathon training. Every mention of the marathon distance involved huge amounts of personal sacrifice, running in all weathers no matter what, and forgoing nights out just to run one single race, and that didn’t sound like something I wanted to do.

My stance on the marathon remained unchanged for years, until something broke in my brain. That small, quiet “What if?” started rolling around in there like a stone in a tin can, until all the reasons I thought I should try outweighed all the fears about the training and the race distance itself.

I told my husband first. He looked concerned.

It was not the most auspicious of training starts, either – we were staying in a friend’s spare room while our boat was in drydock, which is an expensive and stressful time of upheaval anyway, but Spring 2012 was also one of the coldest and relentlessly rainy times of the last century! So it certainly didn’t help matters that most of my early training was done in early morning downpours…

But I made it through, and I had a brilliant first marathon experience running Amsterdam in October 2012. I felt like I still had my life outside running (though my husband may disagree!), I found that I really enjoyed the consistency of sticking to a plan (Tuesdays are for tempo, Saturdays are for long, etc), and I ran better than I expected on the day itself, too.

Still, though, when other runners say to me others are making them feel pressured to run a marathon, my best advice is always to resist until you feel utterly compelled to run one.

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