Marathon update: the week I got ill and no running happened

Apparently, not everything is going to go to plan when you’re training for a marathon. This has been amply demonstrated to me in the last week – a week that now appears as a smouldering wasteland of ruinous nothingness in my London Marathon preparation.

It all started last Wednesday, with everything going so well. It was March 23, I posted a piece celebrating the second anniversary of my running, and headed off to work in high spirits on a sunny day with my running kit packed. The plan: run home from work as part of a longer-than-usual mid-week run. Great plan.

It started to go south around lunchtime, when I started to feel a little… off. I tried to shrug it off and press on. Sure it was nothing. It wasn’t.

By the end of the work day, I had to concede I wasn’t feeling up to a run, so instead I slung my kit bag on my back and walked home, sat on the sofa… and fell asleep for two hours. By this point even I had to admit to that running nightmare: I was ill. I had a bug. A virus. A cold. Man-flu. Actual flu. Whatever it was exactly, I felt terrible. Still, a night of sleep would fix it.

On Thursday morning I managed to convince myself I was better, and even made it into work. I wasn’t better, and I didn’t last the day. I got home, slept, work up, ate a bit, slept a bit. Then went to bed. I went to be at about 10.20pm on Thursday night, and got up at 11.40… am on Friday morning. Before walking to the sofa, sitting down and falling asleep again.

Basically, it wasn’t until Saturday evening that I began to feel remotely human again, and Sunday morning before I could really say I was recovering. By time of writing – Monday morning – I’m feeling much improved, but the coughing and spluttering is still ongoing. I’m hopeful that, on current rate of recover, I might be able to get back to a spot of running tomorrow. But not sure. Either way, it’s less than ideal: the longest I’ve gone without running in two years – and exactly four weeks before the London Marathon.

If it wasn’t so disastrous, it would be spectacularly comic timing, really – especially because I genuinely can’t remember the last time an illness has floored me for quite so long. Seriously, we’re probably talking back in the years following my heart operation, when I was somewhat more fragile than I am now.

Until I can actually get out running again, I’ve got no idea how much missing a week of running is going to affect me. I’m optimistically telling myself it’s a cunning early taper strategy but, clearly, it’s not going to help.

Also, perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much: my profession is as a journalist/editor, so I’m always looking for drama, adversity and plot twists to build storylines and intrigue around. Picking up the worst illness I’ve had in decades, just a month before my first marathon? Yeah, it probably adds to the drama…

…but I’d rather go without the drama. I don’t like drama. Or illness.

I just want to go running. Soon.

Once I’ve stopped lying around in bed, I’m running the 2016 London Marathon to raise money for the Bristol and South West Children’s Heart Circle. For more information on the charity and how to sponsor me, please click the ‘Just Giving’ button below. Thanks!

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!



  1. cmmercer

    I feel your pain after missing a full 8 days training due to illness including a long run and a half marathon target race. Managed an easy week this week and I hope that I can nail a solid week now before the taper begins. Fingers crossed for a speedy return to form for you


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