10,938 days. That’s how many days I have been alive. In a tiny fraction of those collected minutes and hours, I’ve run. Run to catch buses, sprinted away from monkeys in India, dashed to get to the front of the lunch queues at school but in ten of the thousands of days I’ve run marathons.
Running has taught me more about myself than anyone or anything prior. Before I started running I never truly believed in myself or valued my own self worth. Doubt crept in to every silent moment. The simple act of running flipped my thinking, made me understand that I am strong and that despite anything put in my path I can overcome. When you push yourself to simply finish regardless of pain and doubt it carves a harden core of strength within. I have made it no secret on this blog that I have battled depression for a number of years, running has done untold wonders for my dark shadow. Running takes you to that raw place where you face that which binds you, confront it. Mile by mile, day by day since that day in August 2015 I have run myself anew. By the time I lined up for the London Marathon in April 2016 I felt my best self and I knew I was starting something monumental. When I finished, medal round my neck I truly understood that this wasn’t the finish but merely the beginning.
When I crossed that line in April last year I achieved something I never thought possible. I ran a marathon. I forced my body to constantly move for 26.2 miles through pain, doubt and mental adversity. A marathon will break you down and it will rebuild you. Maybe not in a huge monumental way bit in whatever significant or subtle manner you’ll emerge sweat sodden, chaffed but ultimately different then when you started. I always thought that this effect would diminish, wilt as the miles mounted but as I sit here with ten marathon medals I feel each of their shifts in the self. As I run my fingers across them I can picture their changes created both physically and mentally. Despite being in motion during these marathons (apart from the off gel and bathroom breaks!) my strongest, lasting memories are snapshotted stills: My friends in the crowds of the London Marathon, the Golden Gate Bridge looming through the fog, Chicago at night with my medal still around my neck, Rome’s cobble stones glistening in the rain and Welsh roads leading upwards to name but a very small few. These snapshots will be forever stitched in my memory.
I put in a blog post at the end of 2015, the worst year of my life, that sometimes you have to go through the worst of times to really look around you and see how absolutely blessed you are. I think by pushing my body during marathons I get that feeling in concentrated form, when I feel my body wane I think about all the things that have gotten me this far and the experiences I have had along the way. In doing so it keeps me striving forward because why would I ever want this adventure to stop?
I know I’m not fast, a lot of runners will consider my finishing times laughable but I don’t care about that. I don’t run for them. I run for myself and to inspire others who read this blog to start their own journeys. But don’t be fooled by all my rose-tinted words, running a marathon is hard, really f**king hard. I’ve lost toenails, chaffed in unspeakable places and almost crapped my pants far far too many times for someone about to turn 30. I have felt pain like I have never felt before, questioned my very self, despised the very act of running at times. But I’ve also done things I never thought possible because of it; run 40 miles in 24 hours with new found friends, had strangers call me an inspiration, travelled to places I have always dreamed of visiting and ultimately fallen in love. I know that one day my body will weary and I will no longer be able to run but until that day comes I will carry on putting one foot in front of the other to add to these stunning snapshots.
The only thing stopping you from running a marathon is you. I am no different from anyone else, so never doubt that you can do it too. Just set your mind to it, sign up for a 5K right now, build up to a 10K, half marathon, 20miler and before you know it you’ll be lining up for your first marathon. A title that despite anything that comes afterwards will always be yours. I’ll help where I can; ask me questions in the comment section, message me on social media or email me. I want to help you all get the joy from running that I get. Set a goal, start today.
In 10,938 days I’ve run 10 marathons but I’m not stopping there. 10 is a good number but you know what sounds better? 100.
10, down, 90 to go.
Queenstown Marathon I’m coming for you.