Sunday, October 14, 2018

Beginnings and the Road to Brighton


Today marks exactly six months until the 2019 Brighton Marathon. If all goes well, in six months time I should be running my very first marathon. What better reason to start writing about running?
Runner racing
(Photo by Barry Cornelius, August 2018)

Where it began...

Where did my running really begin? 

Was it signing up to the Bath Half Marathon in 2016 with my flatmate, a weird fear of missing out decision?

Or was it those first few runs around the streets of Bristol in my second year of university, out of breath after a few hundred metres and getting far too warm in thick tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie?

Was it "accidentally" getting myself onto the school cross country team, doing next to no training before stomping round a muddy course and somehow always being back at school in times for maths?

How about a 5km run with my mum in Hyde Park, completely purely on natural fitness and without a clue about the distance.

Maybe it was the primary school relay team, although my memories are blurry and I'm not sure I ever actually competed (despite my mum being the coach!). 

Perhaps it was even infant school sports day where I copied the athletes I'd seen on TV, crouched down on the start line before the sprints only for my teachers to say that probably wasn't necessary for a group of five year olds (that memory has stuck very clearly). 

Bath Half Marathon Running Vest and Number

I suspect I'm not alone in not really being able to pinpoint where my running journey began. Much like a new runner, it has stopped and started, coursed along for a while and gathered momentum, before coming to a halt, exhausted and requiring huge effort to get going again.

Although I dipped in and out of running throughout school, it was a very minor part of my life and something I only ever thought about for the moment I was actually in it. The idea of running regularly never even crossed my mind.

I bought a pair of running shoes in my second year of medical school with a vague idea of doing a few runs to keep fit without needing to pay for a gym membership. I think I ran a few times that year, but it wasn't really until my housemates started training for the 2015 Bath Half that I started running more regularly - I didn't want to be the lazy, unfit member of the house! I joined them for a couple of longer runs but mainly stuck to a 5km route through Clifton two or three times a week. 

Having seen so many of my friends and coursemates train for and complete the half marathon, I was fairly easily persuaded to enter the 2016 race even if it was purely to be able to say I'd done 13.1 miles at least once in my life. I printed out a training plan, stuck closely to it through my final months at medical school and completed the Bath Half Marathon feeling ecstatic. I thought briefly about entering more races, but got somewhat distracted by a two month elective placement in South Africa, a European road-trip and then starting work as a junior doctor.

Running Vitality London 10k

In fact, it was more than a year before my next race, the Vitality London 10,000. I'd trained but not particularly well and really struggled with this run on what was a very humid day. It was nearly enough to put me off running, but with a new job in Oxford coming up I decided to pre-empt half marathon FOMO and entered the 2017 Oxford Half Marathon. Another race that didn't go to plan, but this time filled me with determination. Running wasn't going to beat me. I immediately signed up for another half marathon, got myself down to Parkrun and a few weeks later joined a running club. 

What's to come?
A year on from making the decision to start taking running a bit more seriously, I've got lots to look forward to. I've entered the Brighton Marathon and now I'm putting in the foundations before I begin my first marathon training cycle this winter. 

I still think of myself as a new runner and I know I have a whole heap of things to learn and experience but that's all part of the process and the fun!

So please, follow along and if you have any comments or advice on marathon training feel free to share!

1 comment

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