There's little under 3 months to go until I take on my greatest physical challenge and partake in the London Marathon for the first time. Since I last posted an update on my training, back in October last year, I suggested that I hadn't set any personal targets, but one thing I soon came to realise is that having goals is immeasurably important, especially when taking on the huge commitment of running 26.3miles at the age of 39!
I want to run the London Marathon along it's entire length (as opposed to the odd spells of walking) so in those early few weeks the biggest issue I had was pacing myself to something I felt was realistic for covering that sort of distance. The problem I was having was that my usual regular routes were 4 or 5 miles max and ran in around 7.33 min per mile, so to pace for a marathon meant slowing down quite dramatically. I failed miserably. No matter what I tried I would naturally end up running my usual pace and rhythm over time. In the end I just decided to see how far I can push myself by running freely, and as the training runs have got longer - I'm currently up to 15 miles - my average pace has levelled out to just over 8 minute miles, which I'm well chuffed with. Of course, what all that means is my biggest target has been set; run the marathon in under 4hrs.
Physically I've coped well, but I genuinely think so much of the marathon training is in the head. Knowing you have to head out on cold nights or on days when the wind and rain are cutting in to you is commonplace for me as I've ran regularly for we'll over a decade. Having to change aspects of my diet has been a bonus rather than a chore, and having to be disciplined where alcohol is concerned has not been an issue. The one thing I just cannot get used to is the cold baths after the long runs. Good advice suggests you should take an ice bath for 1 min for every mile you've ran. There's no doubting how effective it is in the recovery of your muscles, but knowing I have that utter agony to endure at the end of my run is almost an incentive to keep on running!
I have also decided what Charity I will run for. Considering the larger charities are well catered for on events like this I made the decision to support a small local charity in my home town of Bishop's Stortford. Grove Cottage provides social and educational activities for people with learning disabilities and, perhaps equally as important, much needed support for their families. Although a Mencap centre, they receive no financial support whatsoever and rely solely on donations. My wife is setting me up one of those Just Giving pages if you're keen to offer your support, but failing that, if my efforts have inspired you, please give something to a charity of your choice.
People of a certain age may recall the Beano cartoon character, Edd Case (noted above), who was a hapless chap who had little people living inside his head who essentially controlled his body and mind. They were called Numskulls. Now, as those who know me will testify, not only do I (unfortunately) have more than a passing resemblance to poor old Edd, but I'm convinced those little folk have taken up residence inside my bonce. They do all they can to discourage me and every passing mile they scream at me to stop, but unlike Edd, I'm winning this little battle of wits!