13 Oct 2014

200 Days and Counting

In 200 days I’ll be doing something perhaps a little crazy - something I wouldn’t have believed, a couple of years ago, that I even would have attempted: I’ll be running the 2015 London Marathon.

I haven’t been running all that long. Having grown up asthmatic and bookish I spend most of my teens and even 20s eschewing pretty much all kinds of exercise where possible, and only laced up a pair of running shoes about three years ago. I remember distinctly, in the early and even medium stages of the ‘couch-to–5K’ programme I was on, feeling like completing a 5K was near impossible… then it was something I accomplished. After that it seemed like trying to break 30 minutes was an insurmountable barrier… until I did it. It’s still kind of shocking to me how quickly running 5K became just something I do a couple or three times a week. The next challenge was longer distances, and recently I broke the hour barrier for 10K. Not world-beating pace, but another personal goal achieved.

I feel like running has taught me something about perseverance—about patience—and has helped shape my temperament over the last three years to some extent. I think of it as a similar discipline to meditation, and approach the two with a similar mindset. Both have taught me about my limitations and helped me start to reach a bit beyond some of them.

I don’t feel anywhere near ready for a marathon! But then, perhaps that’s how you’re supposed to feel with 200 days to go. The jump from 10K to 42.2K is genuinely daunting, and right now the thought of running constantly for what is likely to be somewhere around 4.5 hours is painful. But if it was easy I guess it wouldn’t be as worth doing.

So, now I have 200 days ahead of me in which the marathon will factor into almost everything else I do: 200 days of watching what I eat, training consistently and increasingly vigorously, and working towards a goal that right now seems kind of impossible. As soon as the acceptance letter came through I sublimated my anxiety with two things: first I used it as an excuse to hit the Nike store for gait analysis and finally upgrade my shoes (new Lunarglide 6s are winging their way to me as I type); secondly, I started to think about which charities I’d like to run for. The London Marathon remains Britain’s biggest single-day fundraising event, which in-and-of-itself is pretty remarkable, and if I’m going to put myself through a lot over the next 200 days I’d like it to be about something bigger than just myself. [Update: I ran for Macmillan Cancer Support & POTS UK; this post has been edited to remove a link to a donation page, since the event is now over.]

I’m looking forward to it, though anxiously. And I’ll make sure to keep you all updated on how much I’m missing sugar, and hating the hours spent running through snow-filled streets. Wish me more than luck.