I recently mentioned on Twitter that I’d set a target time for my first marathon. This was met – almost without exception – with responses suggesting that I shouldn’t do this, and should just focus on completing the distance, enjoying the experience, and not putting too much pressure on myself. In fact, there were only two responses in support of my goal (and one of them was my coach!).
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t think that there’s anything wrong with this other approach at all – and although it’s not a mindset I would naturally adopt, I can see why others would and that’s totally cool. You do you and all that. I was surprised however, by the weight of opinion in the ‘just focus on getting round’ camp.
I’m sometimes asked why I run, and the first word out of my mouth in answer to this is always ‘pride’. I run for that sense of accomplishment, for reaching a goal, for seeing improvements, for proving my inner critic wrong. I’ll be proud to – touch wood – finish a marathon, of course I will. But I also know that I could probably go out and complete a marathon tomorrow if I really had to (it wouldn’t be easy of course. Or pretty. Or without walking, but I’m reasonably sure that I could do it). And with another 20 weeks of training I almost certainly could. The real challenge for me comes in trying to complete it in a (relatively- taking into account my current fitness and speed levels) fast time. The time itself isn’t really relevant here – to some it will be slow, to others fast – but it’s a time that I know I should be capable of if I train smart and push myself. And why wouldn’t I want to challenge myself? Find out what I’m really capable of? By giving myself this goal, I’m giving myself the opportunity to achieve something awesome. I’m certainly not in the business of holding myself back.
What if you fail? People ask. Well, I’ll be disappointed, of course I will. There’s no two ways about it. But I won’t have any regrets. There won’t be any what ifs. I’ll have given it all I’ve got, and I’ll know what I’m truly capable of.
And what if I succeed? What if I find myself waking up on April 24th with that coveted time to my name? Well, you won’t find a happier, prouder runner in London. And I owe it to myself to give myself that opportunity.
So I’m taking that chance.
I’m betting on myself.
I’m aiming for a sub-4 marathon.