April 16, 2018
I am writing this 4 days after completing my first ever Marathon in Paris and 10 days before I undertake London Marathon. If you are reading this I guess you must be curious about running, or you might have a hot date with a long distance coming up. I hope these musings help you to accomplish a goal, no matter how big or small it may be to others.
The first thing I would advise any first-time marathon runner to remember is, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ as cited by Theodore Roosevelt. What I mean is, make sure you run your own race. Set your own goal and stick to it, don’t be tempted to waver that goal as the run gets closer… ‘if she can get a faster time perhaps I can’. NO! Stick to the plan you have worked so hard for over the recent months and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.
Use the breath to feed your organs. Suck all that beautiful air deep into your body and let it replenish you. Feel the breath move around you. Notice how it eases the discomfort. Be present. Be the breath.
People talk about the wall. I’m not sure exactly what that feels like but I know that my spirit broke around half way and the tears came. I knew I could complete it, but deep down I also knew the pain and discomfort that going to accompany that achievement. When this battle of mind and body comes in just Keep. Moving. Forward. It doesn’t matter how fast – every step is one step closer to the end.
If you are anything like me the self- doubt can creep in pretty quickly, and if I let my guard down it can start giving me a really hard time. A marathon is a long time to stay on your guard so practice the week ahead with positive affirmations ready for when you need them. Keep them in your pocket through the race and use them to fend off the self-doubt and fear that might sneak in.
In Paris marathon there were wet banana skins & orange skins all over the floor at every 5km feeding station which slowed everyone down to a walk, I also ran in heat of 23 degrees which wasn’t expected or welcome after completing all my training in the winter (oh yes I’ve also been stranded in the snow on Richmond Park, I’ve had to hire a Boris bike when I was lost in the Isle of Dogs on a run and many more setback stories). The point I’m trying to make is, don’t let these setbacks break your spirit because once your spirit is broken it is really hard to keep going. Accept the setbacks, accept every run has a mind of its own and you can’t control or predict all the conditions, and list a few things you are grateful for instead of what is bringing you down.
I got some chaffing during my last run. I wore the same kit, I did all the same things but my arm was chafing against my top and it was really painful. I had heard stories of supporters handing out Vaseline but I couldn’t see any. So I reached for my Scentered aromatherapy balm and applied it all over my arm. It created a beautiful natural barrier and I had no more pain. I kept applying and used the scent to spur me on.
At tough times look around, look up, smile even though you don’t want to. Look at the architecture or the patterns in the clouds or the trees. See the world through your running eyes – you will spot details you would never see usually. And also look around at all the other runners – at last the lonely training runs are over and you have company, seek comfort in the fact you are not alone in your battle. Push on and feel the strength of the running pack. Everyone is working hard, whatever shape or size they are no one will be finding this easy and you are united in your determination. What a wonderful wonderful thing.
Lucy Allen – April 13th, 2018
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