In May 2018, I wasn’t in as good a shape as I could have been with my running. I had been running without a goal for too long. I had been drifting and didn’t have a carrot in front of me to push me forwards. I needed a target. I decided to do something about it. It was going to be hard, but sometimes you have to aim high and work harder to get what you need.
The starting point
I ran the Liverpool Rock N Roll Half Marathon in May that year. I say ran, I had a strong nine to ten miles but was struggling for the remaining distance. I knew that I could do better. I had the belief inside me to achieve better than I was doing at the time. Aim high, work hard? Got it, let’s do this!
I then entered the Run for All Yorkshire Marathon which was taking place on 14th October 2018. I had ran this race before when I was in better running form, but a friendly, welcoming, local, well supported race such as the Yorkshire Marathon was going to be comeback marathon. It was going to be the stage of a return to being able to achieve, being able to perform, and to surprise people too including myself!
Hard work coming up
From completing that half marathon at Liverpool, I then had 21 weeks to get myself back in the game. I posted at the time ’21 weeks of HARD WORK coming up!’ and I wasn’t wrong.
I had to work myself up from being able to comfortably run 10km-10m up to running a half marathon distance comfortably, and then up to 14m, 15m, 16m, 18m, 20m and to still get plenty of miles in my legs in between these long runs.
You give up a lot of your time when you are marathon training. You make sacrifices – not just lie-ins, but marathon training does take over and it has to be one of the main things going on in your life for you. This was no different for me, even though this was my fourth marathon I would be doing. Family and friends get used to you not being around as much or casually bringing up how you’ve just done a sixteen mile training run already that morning!
I surprised myself how I slotted back into training so easily. I was in the rhythm of getting out there running four, five, sometimes six times a week. I would sometimes go out and just do a couple of miles, other times I would rattle out 8-10 miles after work.
I was enjoying myself. I loved being in the performance zone again. I wasn’t comparing myself with anyone else, just on how I felt, what I was capable of, and knocking off a few PBs at different distances on the way was as ever a great motivator.
It was a very warm summer. Training in temperatures in the high twenties was the norm. Early morning training runs were much nicer but I made sure I ran in all conditions that the skies gave us because you never know what card you will be dealt with on the day. I remember one morning it was due to rain early on the Saturday morning before parkrun. I made sure I went out and ran in this as it was good practice should it rain on the day. It rained for most of the twelve mile I did before joining in at my local parkrun afterwards. I was soggy, but soon dried out as the temperature rose. I remembered at the time that this was an investment.
Over 500 miles of training runs and practice races later, and it was time to take my place on the start line once again. It was wet. It had rained all the way on our journey from home to York. It was forecast to rain all day. My investment of a training run in the rain had been worth it! I wasn’t swayed by it. I was ready for whatever weather came my way that day. My training had gone well. My head was in the right place. My race was up to me now.
It was soggy, but I ran with a smile on my face still. I focussed on running my own race. I thanked the spectators for coming out in the soggy conditions. I made them feel welcome for cheering us all on in our challenge. I chatted with other runners on the way round. Running is a great thing. It is about community. It is about having a good time as well as sometimes getting a good time too. It is about being grateful for the opportunity we have to use our health and fitness to do something so enjoyable.
How did I do?
Whilst the weather conditions were a factor for slowing some people down, it helped some push on to get round and finished! I knew I was going well but it was still hard work getting round the 26.2 miles, but it was a very enjoyable time. I knocked 5 minutes and 40 seconds off my PB as I crossed the line in 4h53m33 and I was over the moon.
What I got out of it
I had not just ran 26.2 miles. I had not just run over 500 miles in training. I had turned a corner from where I was at with my fitness. I had grown as a person. I had developed as a runner. I had made strides forwards. Other people told me that I had inspired them with my comeback marathon. They had seen the hard work I put in every week, and with a smile on my face. I had taken inspiration from other people, and in turn helped inspire others too. This was because I had the belief in the first place to go for a goal.
My motto of Believe, Achieve, Inspire had come full cycle. I not only had inspired others, but I had inspired myself to believe once again. When you have belief and hope, you have something more precious than gold and you know how much runners like shiny things like medals and gold!
When you have belief and hope, you have something more precious than gold.