I started doing the ‘running FAQ’ posts to answer the most common questions I was asked while training for the London Marathon. But in the week or so since I completed it, there’s been another question people have frequently asked me… are you going to run another one?
Now that’s a good question. Hmmmmmmm.
Here’s the thing: I knew the answer to this question. I had 100 per cent made my mind up. As I was running painfully slowly (and in some pain) up the final drag of Embankment, the Palace of Westminster looming in front of me, I had firmly made my mind up.
No. Never again. This will be my one and only marathon.
To paraphrase Taylor Swift, me and marathons were never ever, ever, ever getting back together. Like, ever.
Why? Because, in all honesty, I wasn’t really enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the experience. A week later, I still keep thinking of moments and memories that will last me a lifetime. But with about ten miles to go, I began to struggle. I ached. It hurt. Smashing headfirst into The Wall I struggled on, pushing closer to my limits – possibly even a bit beyond – than I probably ever had before. And I really didn’t enjoy it.
So no. No more marathons.
Now, I’m not the kind to make snap decisions, and before the start of the marathon, I promised myself I wouldn’t resort to cliche by crossing the line and immediately vowing I’d never run one again. So I didn’t. Instead, I made my mum and my brother promise to never let me enter another marathon (I also made them buy me a cup of coffee and a muffin in Pret, but that’s not really relevant at this juncture…).
While I didn’t utter ‘I’m never doing another marathon’, I was genuinely firm of my intention that I didn’t want to do another one. I love the challenge of doing races, but figured my speciality was shorter events – up to a half-marathon or so – where I could push myself without having to explore my limits quite so hard.
There’s just one problem with that: my stubborn, competitive spirit. I ran a marathon – my first marathon, two years after I took up running – in just under three-and-a-half hours. I finished 6112th in the 2016 London Marathon. My family, friends and work colleagues were pretty impressed. Some were amazed. Me? I was happy. Thrilled, even. But…
Like many runners, I rarely celebrate what went right – but spend my time thinking about how I could have done better. Could I do better? Is 3h 28m 17s as fast as I can possibly run a marathon? Would it be possible for me to go quicker? Could a different training programme have cut a few minutes off? How much better would I have done if I hadn’t fallen ill a month before the race? Would I have done better if I’d set out a bit more steadily?
I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. I really don’t. And, to paraphrase Harry Hill, there’s only one way to find out…
But what about the pain? The discomfort? The struggle of pushing myself to the limits?
Well, funny thing. The pain wears off, memories of the discomfort fade. But the euphoric feeling of running the London Marathon – the sensation of doing something that ranks among the cooler things I’ve done in life – remains.
So, would I ever run another marathon?
Still, I haven’t broken any promises. And there’s no guarantee I’ll get in: there’s huge demand, and only something like 10 per cent of the ballot entrants actually get a place. But in the unlikely event that I do, my mum and my brother will have a lot of explaining to do. They promised not to let me do that…
I completed the 2016 London Marathon to raise money for the South West Children’s Heart Circle. I’ve finished now, but it’s not too late to help a fantastic cause. Click the button below for details on how to sponsor me and donate. Thanks!