After only twelve weeks of training, I have successfully run the Brighton Marathon. I completed it in just over 4 hours, and although it was physically challenging, I never once believed that I would not complete it.
The sun had turned up for the day, and running along the coastal road was a genuine pleasure. I was astonished to see so many people, who had all given their time to line the route supporting the runners and help them on their way. It was a fantastic occasion and I was proud to be a part of it.
To recap, I had not run further than 7km before I began the training regime. On the cold and icy mornings, to the dark, rain-soaked evenings I ploughed on sticking to the belief that the plan would see me through. In hindsight I did not check this plan against any other plan, I was just relieved that it stretched across the necessary time period and it looked realistic, and that was enough for me.
People recommended that I should run with others to encourage me to stick to the plan, but I never did that, and on the marathon day itself, I experienced for the first time the weird tribal feeling of setting out on a run with thousands of other people all around you. Instead of any external help that I could have used, I relied upon two motivators to get me through the training.
The first was a visualisation of the finishing straight, and the euphoria of crossing the line. All through my training runs I would often imagine what this would feel like. Actually the reality was pretty much how I imagined it, apart from the finishing straight being about three miles long. So, by the actual finish line I was definitely running on empty.
The second motivation that I kept coming back to was the amazing amount of money that friends had donated to the charity that I was running for, Epilepsy Action. (£2,500 as of now) This really was a great help to remember on the day, but actually as the charity means so much emotionally to me, and in my exhausted state, the knowledge of the good it would do was a little overwhelming at the finish line. But certainly through the training period, it was often the only thing that would get me out of the door in the first place.
And that is the main point of what I have learnt in this experience. All you have to do is get out of the door and put one foot in front of the other. A marathon is a long way, in fact, it’s a really long way, and if you think about it in it’s entirety then you would never start. For goodness sake, if I could run on water I would be able to run to France in less time. But you don’t attack it one big lump. The whole process is broken down and all you have to do is get to the end of the piece in front of you. Training runs are built up gradually, the marathon itself is built up by markers. All you have to do is keep on keeping on, as they would say in Northern Soul.
That’s the lesson that I’m glad I’ve learnt because it’s the same with everything you do. Just keep edging nearer and nearer towards your dreams and you will achieve them. It’s impossible not to… eventually. Don’t think of the whole and then put up all of the obstacles that will get in your way because you’ll never start, just look at that first little hill to start with and get to the top of it, pat yourself on the back and keep going.
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