Is it in my head?

The simple answer to the question is, yes! I’d even go as far as saying that distance running, particularly for novices, is very much in the head.

I’d been running for well over a year before someone suggested moving up from 10K races to a half marathon. Twice the distance equated to twice the effort and twice the training but that didn’t seem to worry me as much as my initial doubts about running for the first time.

When Julie, a work colleague, died it was suggested that we should run a 10K to raise some money for the local hospice that had cared for her in her final days.As I’d known her the longest it was hard for me to say no.

My fitness was in doubt, certainly in my own mind, despite playing plenty of 7-a -side football I wasn’t sure that I could manage 6.2 miles. Football is a stop start game and my game didn’t involve much speed! Before setting off for my first training run I envisaged taking around an hour and a half to complete the race. This was going to consist of running, well, jogging, a mile and then walking for a few minutes before starting to run again.So before my trainers had hit the tarmac in anger I was putting psychological barriers up.On return from my run I was knocking 20 minutes from my expected race time. As the weeks passed my expectations of a good finishing time rose and much to my delight I finished in under an hour and managed to run non-stop!

There comes a point in a runners life when the idea of running a marathon seems to be an obvious and an expected course. Having run a few half marathons it was my aim to go for broke and “do” the London marathon. As I mentioned earlier the step up from 10K to a half is virtually a double up in effort and training but in my mind the step up to a full marathon wasn’t simply a double up, it felt like more.

Watching the marathon on TV I saw one of the many celebrities that run each year being interviewed after the race. The celeb had finished in a fraction under four and a half hours and this was described as being a good time for a novice. So my target time was to be four and a half hours! the following day at work I sat at my desk at nine O’clock and followed the clock for four and a half hours. Could I really run for that length of time? Once again my mind was worrying about what my legs and muscles were going to have to do.

As I look to plan my race for next year I’m considering what pace to start at, when do I up the ante, will I have enough in reserve to have a decent finish? I won’t be able to answer these questions until Sunday 13th April when I’m in the middle of the race and the answer will probably change mile by mile.

I don’t think that you can separate thinking about a race and your tactics from running it. People say that you should ignore the clock and just enjoy the run but as far as I can see there’s little else to do on a long distance run but to think. So why not think about the run and pass the miles in your head?

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D Day

Out of my sight my immediate running future was being decided. Our club secretary along with our President were holding an envelope containing a dozen or so raffle tickets. One of those tickets had my name on the reverse and all of my marathon hopes were riding on it. There was no fanfare announcing the draw just a look in my direction from Mick, the president, and a smile accompanying his announcement of my name. We have three available places for the annual London Marathon and my name was the first out of the hat!

I will now be entering the 2014 race and doing it in my own name! Sounds unusual? Well back in 2010 I ran the race as I’d be drawn out in the club draw as a reserve and was lucky enough to be able to get a place as one of our club members  dropped out  through injury. He’d got into London by being a very good runner and qualifying through a “good for age” category and as reserve I got the chance to take his place, but, and there’s always a but, I ran in his name as it was far simpler than going through official channels to change the race number to me! It was daunting enough to be taking part in my first marathon but also to take the number of a runner far superior to me meant I felt pressure from day one.

Anyway, this time round the place is mine and the marathon effort of marathon training starts soon. Very soon!