I can’t remember if I mentioned I’m running London Marathon this year, but there you have it, I am. I’ve kept it pretty low key ’cause really there’s nothing more boring than someone constantly banging on about marathon woes (and I say that as a runner). I’ve taken a head-down-get-on-with-it kind of approach which seems to be serving me well. I thought I’d drop in and leave a couple of wisdom nuggets that have come to me as I’ve run because yes, running is a total metaphor for life and my footsteps have led to some interesting thought bubbles of late.
You don’t have to be a runner to appreciate that marathon training is a pretty mammoth undertaking. It’s typically a 3-4 month process filled with, well, a shit ton of running basically. It’s physically and mentally exhausting. It’s a wonder anyone puts themselves through it, let alone as a hobby. Anyhoo, sure I like to run (11 half marathons and one full one under my belt), over the past year though, I’ve taken my distances down to 3-6 miles, usually banged out at the ass crack of dawn. It’s the perfect way to start my day – clears the mind, gets my energy up, my blood pumping and gets me ready for the day.
I have a busy life. I run two websites, I teach spin six times a week, I do some freelance writing, some consulting, I just have a lot going on. I didn’t want marathon training to be a massive drain on my life. I don’t care what time I finish the race in – I’ll dance around the course for all I care. It’s just important to me that I enjoy the process and that I fuse it realistically with the way I live my life.
So, rather than follow a marathon plan that’ll have me running four or five times a week, incorporating long runs, short runs, speed sessions, hill sessions and all that fun stuff, I’ve sacked all that off for my own plan: DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT. And you know what? It’s awesome!
I’m running once or twice a week, with the aim of just gradually increasing my distance. No stress, no pressure, no timing myself. I run where I want, when I want and it’s bloody fantastic.
I had a great run this weekend which got me thinking about a lot of things. Firstly, I’ve been building up my distances slowly and only last week did I manage to get back into double digits, finally cracking a 10 miler. I see others doing marathon training are busting out 15-16 milers already, but my DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT marathon plan means that I pay that no mind.
Life lesson: My marathon, my journey, my way – how others are doing it is none of my business.
This weekend, I set off at 5am with the aim of simply trying to get to 11 miles. The streets are so peaceful at that time. I love listening to my footsteps and my breath, mentally mapping out where I’ll go the run.
Life lesson: Making it up as you go along is not just OK, it’s a ton o’ fun!
I ran through West London, Knightsbridge, past Buckingham Palace, weaved in and out of people pouring out of clubs around Charing Cross, down Oxford Street, charged down the middle of Regent Street with barely a soul in sight, ran through that tunnel of light at The Ritz Hotel and more than a few times, I stopped to take a picture, take in a moment, look at some buildings. I’m not trying to outrun my thoughts or outrun my city, I want to take it all in.
Life lesson: stop and look around every once in a while. Shit’s pretty awesome when you do.
And I felt so energised by the buzz of this beautiful city I call home, I felt so empowered by my body using everything in sync – heart, lungs, muscles, blood pumping, man, the human body is amazing – I felt I could keep going. I made a decision to change my route, to add some distance, to see if, a good eight months since my last half marathon, I could bang out 13 miles just for the hell of it. And I did.
Life lesson: It’s OK to change your mind, change direction, explore, see what’s out there, veer off the beaten path, see what you’ve got left in you.
What I’ve realised is, come London Marathon on April 26th, no matter how you’ve trained for it, we’ll all be crossing the finish line. I know that I’ll be crossing it having had a training journey full of smiles, beautiful mornings, happy feet, struggles overcome, lessons learned and feeling empowered in mind, body and soul.
No matter what challenge you’re taking on in life, I cannot emphasise enough the power of running your own race.