When I was asked to be one of the official bloggers for the London Marathon, part of the deal was that I submitted four or five posts in return for the free stuff they were going to send me. Fine, although to be honest, I would have done it for nothing. They don't seem to be very organised though: they were slow to get started and took ages to get posts up after they were submitted. Not the end of the world, but a bit annoying. After a long delay between the posting of my first and second posts, we agreed that I would submit a post for the week before the marathon, and one just after. Well, a week after submitting my penultimate post, it still isn't up. Well, bugger them. I'm putting it up here because it's really to be read before the run.
So here it is:
With less than a week to go before the big day and as the taper kicks in, my mileage is coming right down to make sure that my legs are fresh and ready for the challenge ahead of them. But you know what? Tapering is hard! Daft though it sounds, after months of slogging through ever-increasing distances, stepping that distance down is surprisingly difficult. There’s a fairly large part of me that feels vaguely guilty that my last ‘long’ run will be no more than 6 miles. After all, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was running 22 miles; it barely seems worth getting changed into my running kit for something as short as a measly 6 miles. And yet…at the same time, those 6 miles seem disproportionately difficult, with every muscle feeling heavy and every step along the way little more than a sluggish plod. If it’s this hard now, how on earth am I going to find the energy to run 26.2 miles on Sunday?
You’d imagine that running was mostly about how much strength you have in your legs, but the simple truth is that it’s at least as much about mental strength. As the novelist and keen amateur marathon runner Haruki Murakami astutely observed, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”. It doesn’t matter who you are or how hard you’ve trained, at some point during a marathon, you’re going to hit some sticky patches and you need to be prepared. What gets you through those difficult moments is your determination not to stop, to keep going no matter what. Did you see Eddie Izzard running 27 marathons in 27 days? It was an extraordinary undertaking from start to finish, but watching the documentary, the thing that struck me the most was Eddie’s steely focus on putting one foot in front of the other, however much it hurt and however much he wanted to stop. I’m only running the one marathon, but the mental approach is the same.
My motivation to keep going when the going gets tough? I’m humbled by the generosity of the friends, acquaintances and total strangers who have helped us raise money for a cause that is close to my heart. We raised £7,200 for the MS Trust in last year’s race, and when you factor in gift aid and suchlike, this year we’ve already raised more than £10,000. We've been lucky to have the support of Virtual Runner, but what's really floored me is the generosity of those people who sponsor us, or who buy a raffle ticket for the chance of a rubbish prize or who put their names down for a finishing time in my sweepstake that they know I haven’t got a chance of making. The MS Trust is a fine charity and I'm proud to be raising money for them, but the reason I keep putting one foot in front of the other is because of the faith people like you are putting in me. Thank you.
Of course, you can still sponsor us!
See you on the other side!
So, there it is. I imagine that it will go up on the London Marathon site at some point, but it seemed a shame to waste it. Consider it an exclusive preview.
All that remains now is to run the bloody thing.