April 16, 2018
Nobody ever signs up for a marathon without the full intention of training and running it to their best ability.
I never have…and never would, I have too much respect for the distance.
Well, I found out I had a place for this years London Marathon in October and was absolutely over the moon. The last time I ran this race was back in 2015 and that year I got injured just 3 weeks out and it took me almost 7 hours to get round, so I always hoped I would get a chance to do it again in better shape…but I never assumed this would happen, as it is an absolute privilege to run London…my home town marathon.
Anyway, training started off well….I was already running 10K with ease, so I wasn’t starting from scratch.
Now being a single parent I knew I would have to make adjustments to my schedule to give me the best shot of reaching the start line 100% ready for business. I started going to track again on a Monday night, got childcare on a Wednesday night so I could go to my running clubs weekly session, and I scheduled Fridays as my long run day…so I didn’t have to stress about doing them at the weekends.
I pulled together my plan and felt confident and excited about ticking off the sessions one by one.
I had made changes to my diet too, I gave up the booze and took my plant-based diet (which was a new thing) a little more seriously, adding supplements and more protein to help with muscle recovery and to prevent fatigue.
Then in January while on a routine A-B run (running 4 miles somewhere and then 4 miles back) I noticed a slight pain in the underside of my left foot, so I cut the run short and got the train home after the first section just to be on the safe side.
I rested and stretched more and then at that weekends parkrun it felt OK for the first lap and then towards the end of the second lap the pain reappeared, and this time on both feet.
Time for new trainers perhaps?
So I headed to a podiatrist and went and got a gait analysis and some new shoes. Well to cut a long and very tedious and frustrating story short, I spent 6 weeks trying to get the right pair of trainers and sort out the issues with my feet, easily spending £500 on new shoes, gadgets and physio appointments.
During this time I did the Winter Run and The Big Half…both with issues, but determined to keep to my plan as much as possible. My fitness was still OK because I was (and am still) also training for a 1500meter swim as part of this years Swimathon Challenge, swimming 2-3 times a week…plus I was doing the odd conditioning class at CrossFit and daily yoga.
By the time I found a pair of trainers that were OK, I knew I was behind….but was not panicking.
I went out in Mid March to see what I could do…I managed 12 miles, and had more in the tank…just had to get home to resume mummy duties that Sunday. So maybe my marathon dreams were not over.
But the thing with Marathon Training is that if that was ALL we had to do in the lead up to the race, maybe it would be easy or let’s say easier, but for me that is not all I had on my plate and as we approached the Easter Weekend when my plan was to head out for my longest training run, I was exhausted….both mentally and emotionally.
I had recently got embroiled in an online incident with a major sports brand which turned nasty, it completely knocked my confidence and had a massive impact on my health. My body literally broke down and I spent a week to ten days unable to function properly, managing the bare minimum to keep my home life going…and all of this with London just weeks away.
I still have a neck and shoulder strain caused by being so tense, which I can’t seem to shake much to the dismay of my doctor and physio…sitting at my desk for prolonged periods like for writing this blog is literally a pain in the neck.
This has had a knock on effect to my business too. A series of UK roadshows I had planned had to be canceled because I didn’t have the confidence to promote them…I went quiet on social media and just wanted to retreat and be alone with my thoughts, focussing mainly on my life coaching clients who during this time were a lifeline.
But I have never been a quitter…so I really felt conflicted about whether to give up my place or not.
So on a sunny Sunday morning with some new kit to inspire me, I headed out for a local run, finding a completely new route near me, I just went out and did 5K while listening to an audio book. The run energised me and reminded me why I loved running in the first place, the freedom, the ability to explore and to share my progress with the world.
I was back.
Still tired, but back nether the less.
I was still behind on the training, but I knew that having already done 3 marathons and an ultramarathon I had the advantage of knowing what to expect and knew that I was mentally strong enough to complete it, even if I wouldn’t be running the strongest race of my life.
I had loads of reasons to run this race
- To run alongside the group of 20 or so TFTR women I had been training for London over the last few months
- The fact that Katherine Switzer was running this year (In the image for this post, google her if you don’t know who she is) felt quite poignant
- The effort I had put in to try and get myself back in the game, and the money I’d spent on doing so
- To prove my critics wrong (I ain’t gonna lie…I didn’t want to let them win)
But when I headed out for my longest training run one Sunday morning after a really busy week, and no let up in the cold and miserable weather…I got to about 4 miles and for the life of me couldn’t find a single compelling reason to run any further.
I asked myself
Why am I doing this?
Who am I doing it for?
What am I trying to prove?
And the most important question of all is,
What if something went wrong on race day and I hadn’t listened to my gut instincts on this?
And in that moment my decision was made.
I was out.
Training for, and running a marathon should never be a chore, it should be one of life’s privileges. Sure, it’s tough both mentally and physically, but that can be character building and add to your life…but it should never take so much away from you that you feel like you are left with nothing.
And that is how I have been feeling of late…completely depleted.
How can I stand by my beliefs and values that I share with women about living a bigger more exciting life, that compliments your health and happiness, when this was making me so stressed and exhausted?
So I WILL be at the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday. Just not running. But instead supporting. I will be at the mile 10 Too Fat to Run cheering station offering love and cuddles to all of my wonderful ladies that have made it to the start line….and anyone else who fancies saying hello too.
I don’t feel like I have quit. I feel like I made the best decision off the back of a difficult few months, and I know I will come back stronger….I still think I have at least one more marathon in me but want to do it properly…and I have a cunning plan for how to make that happen.
So Good luck to everyone running on Sunday…you have my love and respect, enjoy every moment. And to anyone who has had to pull out, know there will be other races and this one does not define you.
Now roll on Sunday where we can all see the #spiritoflondon at it’s best
If you are running the VLM on Sunday join me on my Facebook page on Thursday at 8 pm for a FB live “Final pep talk and Q&A session” where I will share with you my best tips from my book The Fat Girls Guide to Marathon Running
Also, if you would like to join us at our mile 10 cheering station, you would be more than welcome to join us. We will have Jelly Babies and Prossecco…but you might need to get there early haha.
We will be setting up from 8.30am just before the mile 10 marker, on the bridge near Onega Gate (Check out the Facebook Event for more details and to let us know to expect you) I am looking forward to celebrating the running world at its finest.
Finally, I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has shown their support both publically and in private over the last few months, and to the London Marathon team for their incredible work they do year in year out.