For a bit of a giggle/out of curiosity I put my recent race times into a marathon pace calculator, and was more than a little surprised when it predicted a sub-4 finish time (Obviously, this comes with the usual caveats of making sure you train sufficiently etc). Once I stopped laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, I gave it a bit of thought and decided that, f*ck it, I’m gonna aim – and train – for a sub-4 marathon.
I always said I didn’t want to just complete my first marathon, I wanted to complete it in a time I was proud of – and I couldn’t imagine being prouder than having a marathon time starting with a 3 to my name.
This isn’t just a time plucked out of thin air (or a pace calculator) though. It’s a time I feel like I should be able to achieve. I’ve got a sub-2 half marathon under my belt (where I felt like I could have run faster) and I train hard. There’s no reason I can’t do it. (Literally just trying to convince myself more than anything right now)
But it will take a lot of hard work, and importantly – coming out of my comfort zone. You know I love a wanky quote, and there are two that are particularly pertinent right now.
“In order to achieve something you’ve never achieved, you need to do things you’ve never done”.
Or words to that effect. I’ve probably butchered a really well worded quote there. Soz.
But yeah, I need to run further and push myself faster in training than I ever have done before. I need to find the edge of discomfort and push past it. Make my body realise that it can and will do these things. Which leads me to…
“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”
Both in the literal, running sense – becoming more used to running at a pace/distance that feels uncomfortable – and in a more general sense; doing things that I would have shied away from in the past.
So, with that in mind, I’ve done a few things this week which have pushed the boundaries of what I feel comfortable with.
For a start, I’m drafting this whilst sitting in Nandos, alone. No biggie to some maybe, and coffee shops? No problem. But an actual restaurant, by myself? Nah mate. Not something I would usually do. Which is why, if you were passing the MK branch of Nandos around lunchtime today, you would have seen a blonde thirty-something clutching a large bag of running clothes that she definitely didn’t just buy because she’s already got a Lycra mountain at home, dithering outside for 10 minutes, before pulling up her big girl pants and asking for her table pour une. (But not before, nipping to buy a notepad and pen first so that I could look like an Important Blogger Doing Important Blogger Things whilst eating) And actually, it was fine. Nobody looked at me like I had three heads, and I didn’t have to share my chips. Win.
Meanwhile, in ‘things that might actually help me run a marathon’ (although Nandos = perfect run fuel), I did another Scary Thing and joined a running club. I’ve liked the idea of joining a club for a while – the meeting new people, the camararderie, having people to push me, the fancy club vests… but all of those reasons were far outweighed by my anxieties about not being able to run at my own pace, having outside influences on my training schedule, not being able to keep up the pace, being outed as an average-at-best runner, and people thinking that I’m actually a bit of a dick.
But my friend Kev convinced me to come along to a social club run with local running group The Shenley Striders, with promises that they were very friendly and that I’d be able to keep up with the pace. Having not run further than 5k in one hit since The Injury, I was more than slightly apprehensive at the thought of running for a solid hour, but what d’ya know, I went, and it was totally, totally fine. I ran, I chatted, I kept up, I nailed some hills, I didn’t trip anybody up, and – feedback pending – I don’t think anybody thought I was a dick. I think the club environment is going to be particularly helpful for the marathon training long runs, so I’m going to try and find a way to make these runs a regular part of my training
I’m hoping to be able to take this new mindset and apply it to my training; pushing myself beyond where I normally would and see where the discomfort takes me. And if it can take me to a 03:xx marathon, then happy, happy days.
As you’ll probably know by now, I’m running the London Marathon next year in aid of the RSPCA. Please do spare a moment to check out my JustGiving Page here, and consider making a donation. I would be so so grateful, and so would this chap:
If you want to go one step further, you can also run for Team Animal. Do it. It’ll be fun. Promise. More info here: