I never thought I would run a marathon. I know how hard I train for a half marathon and how much it can take out of me. I didn’t think I could do double that distance.
But then, a couple of years ago, I had an epiphany. I didn’t need to run a marathon fast! Surely the goal of a marathon was the sense of achievement in completing it, not working yourself into the ground to run it in four hours? It wouldn’t matter if it took me five and a half hours. A marathon is still a marathon.
I now knew that I had to run one. If people who aren’t even runners can run a marathon, I certainly can! I’ve been running for my entire adult life and knew that if I didn’t run at least one marathon, it would be a huge regret. I started saying I would do one ‘soon’, ‘one day’ or ‘in the next couple of years’. But it’s all too easy to keep saying that and not actually make it happen – especially with the way so many marathons get booked up so quickly.
A couple of other things changed too. I started training for my half marathons in a different way. Instead of doing only two long runs a week and tiring myself out, I started doing just one long run a week, with three shorter runs. I was running further in total and getting stronger and fitter. My new training regime seemed to leave me less prone to injury.
The other thing that happened was that I started doing races with my husband and brother-in-law. We all did the Cheltenham half marathon in 2017 and 2018, as well as the Stroud half marathon in 2018. My brother-in-law and I both ran the Tewkesbury half marathon this year. We don’t run together, but we travel together. I’d always been happy to run along and go along to races on my own, but this was better. We keep each other company before the race, so running a half marathon is less of a lonely thing to do.
We started to talk about running a marathon. My husband wanted to do Brighton, I wanted to do Manchester and my brother-in-law wanted to do Liverpool. As someone who doesn’t like crowds and who struggles with eating and digestion when running, due to my IBS, I have no particular desire to do London and I wanted to avoid staying in a hotel if possible. (If we ran Manchester or Liverpool, we could stay with my mother-in-law.) There are a couple of small marathons locally, but my husband persuaded me that those would be a bad idea. Without the crowds and the carnival atmosphere of a big marathon, 26 miles would feel pretty soul destroying.
So we got back to thinking about it. And another round of marathons got booked up.
Then my brother-in-law discovered Newport Marathon. It started this year and is somewhere in between the likes of Manchester and the tiny local ones. We could drive there on the morning and it wasn’t all booked up.
Was this the one? Was I really going to sign up for it?
My brother-in-law signed up for it and that was all the incentive I needed. I’ve signed up for my first marathon!
Newport Marathon takes place on 5th May next year, just six months away. I am excited and nervous, but the time is right. I need to do this now. My husband isn’t ready for it just yet. He still has his heart set on Brighton, so maybe that’s one for 2020.
I will keep running consistently for the rest of 2018, then move to marathon training in the new year. All I need to do is stay injury free.
(Oh and I’m aiming to do it in under four hours and 30 minutes. I just needed to give myself permission to be slow to help me sign up for it.)