Tomorrow morning the Manchester marathon will finally be underway. Time to put 16 weeks of training into practice and have a third go at the infamous ’26 point 2’.
Looking back at the updates I’ve posted along the way I fear some have come across as a little gloomy. Tales of bad weather here, a possible injury scare there and even a bit of self-doubt thrown in for good measure.
Well let me clear a few things up. I love running and training for a third marathon hasn’t tested that love, only strengthened it. Yes it has involved early starts on dark and chilly mornings (not that this winter has been a particularly harsh one). Yes I had to faff around for a few weeks trying to find running shoes that didn’t give me blisters. And yes the body has had to contend with a few more pulls and strains than I'm used to.
But nothing has truly got in the way of that buzz you get from clocking a quick time, bagging a PB or conquering a new and more challenging route. We’re part of the RealBuzz community and that name genuinely captures, for me a least, how running makes me feel – buzzing with excitement and a sense of achievement.
Which brings me on to my next point. I am proud of what I’ve managed to do since taking up running as a serious hobby. I never imagined it would be possible to complete a half marathon, yet alone a full. I never imagined other people, including friends and colleagues, would be looking up to me and being impressed with my times in a race.
Sure, I’m a very long way from the front and am never going to get much closer, but in terms of personal achievements they are off the scale. I think that's one of the main things I've come to appreciate and enjoy about running, especially mass participation events. The huge variety of abilities on show, from elites to fun runners and walkers.
They all have something to celebrate and they all deserve praise and attention for what they are setting out to do. I struggle to think of other sports where this applies. Sunday league footballers don't get to play on the same pitch as Premiership players, after all!
And so the next opportunity to experience this unique atmosphere is just around the corner. Another training programme has come to an end and it's probably the hardest I've pushed myself to date. Four outings a week and not a single one missed. My longest long run and, for the first time, twice weekly cross training sessions at home to build up my core strength and fend off that pesky wall.
Garmin tells me I've covered 415 miles averaging 7.3 miles per hour (I do love a good set of running stats!), but distance isn't everything. I've worked harder this time on controlling my pacing and trying to mimic what I want to achieve on marathon day in my long runs.
Will it pay off? I certainly hope so. But regardless of what the clock ends up saying at Manchester, I know that it, just like the prep that has proceeded it, will be fun. And that's why we drag ourselves off the sofa and lace up our trainers in the first place.
Running tomorrow? Run strong! Running London in a few weeks? Enjoy every mile! Running for nothing in particular save for the shear pleasure? I'm right there with you.
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