Almost eight years ago, on my 20th Birthday, I made a drunken promise to myself and gathered friends. Between the slurred lines and stumbled steps I announced:
“I will run a marathon before I am 30”
The title to this post is an Ernest Hemingway quote and I took it to heart the next day along with every paracetamol I could lay my hands on. When the hangover faded I thought more about this ridiculous resolution; I was a university student, over-weight and under-motivated and yet I loved the idea of challenging my doubt. Yet for the next five or so years I ignored the idea of it, barely laced up a running shoe and only ran to get the tube on time.
On my 25th birthday the run up had been cut in half. Now I couldn’t ignore it any more, I needed to get fit. Yet my lacklustre approach once again won the day; entering the odd 10K here and there but letting the burgers, beer and ballooning belly fill the intervening time between them. They became 10K bimbles rather than 10K runs.
All that changed when 2015 came swinging in. I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw anymore and along with a few heavy hitting emotional hurdles I knew a change had to be made. So I signed up for a few half marathons, the odd 10K and crucially entered the ballot for the London marathon. With that I also began actually training; running two to three times a week, cross training three times a week plus playing badminton regularly paired with an actual healthy lifestyle. Must admit trading steak and beer for salad and juice did make me question this choice though.
So the week of my first half marathon rolled in and I felt nervously confident that I could make it to the end without dying. It was then that a magazine plopped on my doorstep with the headline “YOU”RE IN! You have a ballot place in the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon.”
Almost 250,000 people signed up for the ballot places and I got one of the 50,000 spots, its not exactly like winning the lottery, but to me it is. Yet despite feeling like I have won the lottery doubt creeps through the gleeful gaps. Doubt that I can’t finish, that I will do myself some serious injury in the pursuit of insanity and crucially the doubt of how I’ll feel after I cross the finish line. Doubt can drown dreams but there is a YouTuber called GingerRunner who has summed up why doubt is great:
“People often question why I run, why I train, why I spend the majority of my time on a hobby that wrecks my body and tolls my mind. I do it for me, because I doubt myself. Because I tell myself I can’t, I won’t and no way. While so many move through life consumed by doubt, petrified by it I face it head on. It does not consume me, it fuels me. I welcome the doubt because it fuels me to do impossible things”
As I get nearer to the day of my ‘little jog’ I will be posting a few running related blog posts, but they will be interspersed with the usual random ramblings so fear not! Lastly if there are any runners out there with gems of wisdom leave them in the comments below as I need all the help I can get!
Run James Run! As a runner myself I can give you one sage bit of advice: run for the right reasons. If you are running just for the sake of it you’ll never finish a marathon. Think of why you’re doing it and if it’s strong enough you’ll be able to conquer the wall. Are you running just because of the bet?