In April 2019 I ran the London marathon. I had a charity place with the British Heart Foundation and I raised £3643.42 (target was £3000). I learned a few things about myself and about life in general during the 10 months of my training which I thought I would share.
London Marathon training will consume your life
You’ll literally eat, sleep and breathe running. I even went out for dinner the night before a planned long run and based my cocktail choice on what could provide the best carbohydrate content. I wore sandals or trainers EVERYWHERE-including weddings. I declined hen party invites because they were be too close to the main day and I wouldn’t fit my mileage in.
My weeks were planned around what will serve me best digestion-wise (I suffer from IBS) in order to have my best run each Sunday. The mornings of those runs I would wake up, eat my special “running” breakfast, have a coffee, clear my system out and sometimes even take an Imodium because stopping for the loo may not have been an option OR it would have taken up precious time.
It isn’t a way to drop body fat
This isn’t why I signed up to run the London Marathon anyway BUT I know many people who see it as the ultimate fat loss motivation. I was eating heavily carbed up meals weekly and in the week prior to the London Marathon the meals were 80% carbohydrate. I puffed out like anything and had to get into a calorie deficit to lose what I had gained as I was clearly in a calorie surplus in the lead up to the day.
Your goals are yours and yours only
I turned up to running events full of people wrapped in tin foil, stretching, lacing and re-lacing their running shoes….and on one particular 15 miler I was LAST from the set off at the starting line right the way through until the end of the race. Did the other runner’s prep help me? No. Did their opinion of me get me across the finish line? No. Would anything they did, thought or said matter or make a difference to my performance on the day? Nope!
They were in their elite sports gear and I was in my funky colourful leggings. I still ran 15 miles- the same 15 miles they ran. You don’t have to be the best, the fastest or the most dressed up in this life. This encouraged me to unfollow a hell of a lot of people on my Instagram who made me feel anything but amazing. One person blogged about how their 23 mile run that weekend wasn’t a PB and how awful they felt. That information wasn’t helpful, neither was their content…so baiii!
Life is TOO SHORT to stress over the small stuff
In the 10 months of training I was devastated by the news that my Nan had passed away. This was in the February. She had been up to date with my training right up until 2 months before the big day. She died the night before an official half marathon event, which I still went on because I personally felt it would help, it did but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. I remember looking around thinking why are you worrying? You’re alive and well and about to run a tremendous distance…why are people here stressing about it?
During the 10 months training my brother buried four of his close friends and two of my neighbours in my flat of four died too. So by the time I came to run the London Marathon I literally as only focusing on finishing it and did not worry about a single thing else. I would overhear people complaining about their size, their shape, their relationship, a post someone put on Facebook that offended them. I was furious inside due to grieving that people would let such stupid stuff upset them when MY NAN was dead. Obviously everyone is allowed to be upset about what they want but death really does put stuff into perspective I tell you. No one will remember you for how quickly you ran a race for, how thin your thighs are, how big your lips are. They’ll remember you for being kind, giving your time, making memories ect.
Know your body and your progress
I was very grateful that I would fit my training in and around my job. Training for a marathon and teaching 15 fitness classes a week was tiring so my main focus was always “when can I nap?” “how long can I rest?”. I had comments from multiple people about how I “ONLY” reached 15 miles by Marathon day and how that wouldn’t be enough (enough for what? speed? maybe not but I finished it didn’t I?). I knew my body and that my multiple classes in the week gave me enough variety and cross-training that I only needed to focus on time on my feet during the big weekend runs so I kept to this distance in the weeks leading up to the big day.
I also knew I would probably injure myself if I pushed myself any more or that I would fall ill based purely on my recovery time Monday-Friday. If you’re aiming for a faster time than 5 hours 20mins then yes you may want to look into running a little further so you can then work on your speed. If you’re just looking at completing it, I’ve known some people manage having run half marathons in the lead up and they were fine.
Running for charity stressful
Raising all that money really stressed me out but I followed a fundraising goal plan that I wrote and I ended up smashing it. Had I known how well I would have done I would have stressed much less but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it? You can read about how I fundraised here. Don’t go in to a charity place thinking it will raise itself, you will have to do some work to reach your goal. I ONLY did it because of my annual 3 hour long fitness class I run which raises up to £1000 each year. Fundraising events take time out of your schedule as does all of the running. I had a lot of fun with many of my events though!
What have you learned so far? Comment below and if you want to read about my training click here.