Two years ago my only real hobby was moaning about how unhappy I was with the way I looked and telling people about how I used to run and be relatively fit but always had an excuse as to why I wasn’t anymore. I used to look at people around me who loved the gym and loved fitness and to be honest, assumed they were lying about it just to make me feel bad about enjoying biscuits.
Last week I ran my second marathon in 12 months. And I loved it. Nearly as much as I love a biscuit.
And yes I didn’t win it. In fact I came within the bottom 10. And for the first time in all of the races I’ve done in the last two years, I really didn’t care.
I love a trail. And I love a challenge. So at the beginning of this year, when I decided to take on the big 26.2 on two separate occasions, it seemed logical to do one road and one trail. As with all run’s I take part in, I choose them largely on how pretty I think they’ll be scenery-wise and if its somewhere I’d like to visit. I don’t remotely look at difficulty ratings or course maps. Maybe I should. But then if I did, I would almost certainly have not had as many enjoyable experiences in my last 24months.
2 years isn’t a great deal of time to go from barely being able to run up the stairs without feeling sick, to being able to say I am a marathon runner, but emotionally and physically it’s been one hell of a journey (sorry- X-Factor’s on!) . And it’s a journey I wouldn’t give up for the world. Well apart from about 5 miles in, up a hill, whilst running a marathon two days after having a sickness bug. Right then, I was never running again.
But 26.2 miles gives you a lot of thinking time. Time to realise that mentally I’ve been taking part in a marathon for quite some time. And like with Kielder, without the support of some pretty special people there would be no way I would have reached that finish line. And definitely no way that after promising the whole way through the race I’d never do another one, my accommodation for next year is booked already.
Because with a bit of support anything seems possible.
Firstly, before I get really soppy ( I haven’t ran in 8 days!!) it needs to be mentioned that as far as support goes, I dont think I’d have gotten through Kielder and certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed it without the other runners. I’ve done a lot of races in the last two years and met a few pleasent people, but nothing like those that were at Kielder Marathon. Absolutely every runner had something good to say to each other and I ran side by side with some fantastic supportive people. It is the main reason I cannot wait to do it again next year. There’s a lot to be said for a Marshall who see’s your name on your number and uses it to tell you to keep going, or a walker who stops to clap and promise you you’ll finish soon or another runner who just talks to you for a few mile so you can both keep your mind occupied and pretend that you’ve not got muscles hurting that you didn’t know existed.
Because in the hardest times, support is everything.
There’s an official Kielder picture I have of me crossing the finish line looking happier than I ever have. Mainly because I was at the finish and after running for nearly 6 hours, I knew there’d be tea and a banana in my near future. A lot of people have commented on how relaxed I look in that picture but what people don’t see is the man in the background smiling proudly with his camera phone after standing in Kielder Forest with no phone signal and subsequently no wi-fi for those same nearly 6 hours. As with every race I’ve ever done, Mr Husband has been at the finish line of every one of them. He’s also at home most Sunday’s doing all things Dad-like whilst I go off for 4+hours for my long runs and at home or waiting around at the gym whilst I train in classes or with Mr PT. He’s also the one helping us budget whilst I spend more of our money than I should on race entries, racing clothes, trainers, and accommodation/travel to which ever race I’ve booked without really thinking it through. He spends most of his time promising me I’m not fat and promising me I can absolutely do whatever I put my mind to whilst I accuse him of lying to me and then doesn’t remotely roll his eyes when Mr PT tells me the exact same thing and I believe him.
Mr Husband did two things this week that really gave him some serious Husband of a Runner brownie points.
1) He made me rest. I’ve been training at Infinite air and running for two years now and he finally and softly pointed out after Kielder as I sobbed about how exhausted I was and tried to figure out how to walk on blister covered feet, that maybe it was time to take a little rest. After Edinburgh marathon on a Sunday, I was back training in PT the following Tuesday, and had a half marathon two weeks later-the DNF half that had absolutely nothing to do with my body being tired……..hmmmmmm. So we agreed on a week. Probably just as well as although I’ve experienced runners blues before, never this quickly after a race. For the first time ever, despite being ridiculously proud of myself, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I was happy to sit in the spa hotel Mr Husband had booked us and cry constantly for absolutely no reason other than there wasn’t a muscle in my body that didn’t hurt. I didn’t even send Mr PT my normal “I’ve finished” text – told you it was bad. Mr Husband and a few friends pointed out that actually mentally and physically it was probably time to have a few rest days. Everything I’d been working towards in fitness this year had finally ended and my body suddendly wanted to curl away and hide from those running shoes they treasure so much. Having ran one whole marathon before this one, I was super sure of how my body was going to react. The pain I’d be in on day one, how hungry I would be and how much i’d want to parade around telling people about that marathon I ran. OK, the last point is still valid and I have yet to fail to turn a conversation into marathon talk, but my body reacted completely different this time. My body just felt tired, but no where near as tired as my mind. I genuinely struggled to put a sentence together for the following two days after this one and i had zero appetite. Which probably explains the sadness, given that my favourite thing about distance running is the food I consume in the days that follow a long run. Mr Husband listened tirelessly to all of my runner woes and worries that I’d never want to train again and then I booked a session with Mr PT for this Tuesday and started talking about “when” i was running again and then Mr Husband caught me looking at 2018 races and normality has started to resume. Then Mr Husband did his second act of runner kindness in a week that made me see just how far we’d come in the last 2 years.
2) He booked accommodation for Kielder Marathon 2018. Because he just gets it. And suddenly the runners blues were no more.
This week’s my two year trainer-versary with Mr PT. I’ve seen a lot less of him in the last few months because getting out and running trails and hills became the priority for getting through Kielder. And now they’re not as much of a priority for the time being, I absolutely cannot wait to get back into regular training sessions. After every run, I always tell him I couldn’t have gotten through it without him. I don’t just say it to him, I big him up to a lot of people. And I’m not sure if anyone believes me. Least of all him. Yes, I get I did the training, I got myself round the course and the mental strength comes from within. But two years ago, I walked in that gym with no clue what I was capable of. I am still as much full of self doubt now as I was then and Mr PT just gets it. Somehow he just knows how to make me believe in myself and it’s his voice I hear pushing me through every tough mile of my races. When I tell him I couldn’t do it without him, I mean it. He’s not a runner, but he looks at every training plan, listens to all my running problems and gives me advice he knows I already know just because he knows that I need to hear it from him. Quite simply, I know that with Mr PT, I’m always going to love exercising and just for a little while, I cannot wait for that to not be about running. I’m finally starting to see how far I’ve come in the last two years but I can always rely on Mr PT to help me see how far I’ve still got to go!! Likewise I’ve made some amazing friends at Infinte air. Kielder has been the topic of conversation since it was booked at Christmas, yet they listen every week about my training like its the most interesting thing in the world and most importantly despite them all being super-fit, don’t ever look at me like I don’t belong there, which is normally how i feel.
I’ve always received amazing support about my running. Like Mr Husband, mum and dad are pretty good at telling me when I need to rest and then not commenting when I completely ignore them. I can pretty much guarantee that by the time I have finished a race I’ll have a text from Mum and a few close friends (you know who you are) asking how I’ve done and making sure I know how proud they are before they even know if I’ve finished. I work in a pretty big place and everyone wishes me well after a race and sits and listens about training and runs and ooooh and ahhhh at my medals, week after week. “When’s your next race” is a common a question for me to be asked by strangers in our work canteen as it is to ask a taxi driver “what time you on til”.
Sometimes a rest is just as good for the body and mind as training is. Because sometimes its good to take a step back and look at just how far you’ve come. Because if you put in the work and believe in yourself and your training, you can pretty much accomplish anything you want to.