If you’re reading this, welcome to my new training blog — which is incidentally my first ever online blog. I wasn’t even sure if blogs were still a thing in 2017 and I haven’t started this with the aim of attracting readers. My creative writing isn’t something I have practiced in a very long time, but it occurred to me this evening on my second run since signing up to a half marathon that I’m going to have to keep some sort of track of my training as I go along — anything to keep me inspired to keep going (and not give up, which I thought was what I would end up doing).
It all started yesterday morning when one of my best friends (who is currently living abroad and for the purpose of following anonymity on this blog I shall name Lucy*) tagged me on Facebook for the London Marathon’s new race, ‘The Big Half’. General entries were sold out, but some borough places were still available — I should join. Now, Lucy has been a keen runner for all the time I have known her when I moved in with her 7 years ago upon moving to London. She had just run her first ever marathon when I moved in, and from this stemmed a new obsession with running — there have been many half marathons, full marathons, Tough Mudders and even an Ironman run in the years that have passed. She is so good at it that she now qualifies for her own place in the London Marathon. She is a running nut and not only is she good at it but she genuinely enjoys the thrill and the challenge of it.
A year or two into living with Lucy it started to rub off onto me when I was getting a bit bored with my usual Davina McCall workout DVDs (my main source of exercise since my uni days). So I bought the kit, sought her advice and put on my trainers and ran. I eventually entered the first ever ‘Westminster Mile’ race — yes it was just one mile but it was my first (and last) organised race I entered and we did it together. I loved it but I remember even finding that a little tough. See, the thing about the way I run is I enjoy the freedom and the speed that comes with it. Over the last 4–5 years of occasional running, I have developed a habit of interval running. I can only run in fast speeds before needing to walk in intervals. I get bored running slowly. I’ve always felt frustrated. I’ve never had to think about it much, so I just went with what I felt was right for me and this is the pattern I’ve fallen into.
My last good stretch of regular running was two years ago when I was newly moved to Bermondsey. Having come from Clapham where I mostly ran along the streets and alongside traffic, I was now minutes away from running alongside the river. Excited to be in my favourite area of London, I developed a routine of getting out as soon as I was awake on the weekends and running from Tower Bridge and down to the Tate Modern and back. This equated to about a 4 mile round run back home, and I got quite good at it. I was admittedly in probably the best shape I’ve been in my life at the time (though of course didn’t realise or appreciate this at the time) and my usual interval running pattern wasn’t a problem. After all I knew the distance I was going and I was comfortable completing it in the time I had to do it (which usually amounted to an hour, which included some meandering and a stop off for coffee). I remember at the height of this I stretched this run out to the National Theatre and back (and even one day made it over Westminster Bridge and looped back over through Whitehall).
Last year was a bit of a challenging year for me, and the first half of it was committed to changing jobs. With it the stress was getting to me and I think my exercise routine slipped as well as switching to eating more sugary crap which of course was not very conducive to energetic workouts. My running routine fell out of practice. I started a new job in July and also took up a new sport — spinning. I found it incredibly difficult at first but I also found an absolute high at the end of every workout. Yes, it was TORTURE, but it also made me feel great when I walked back home after 45 minutes of spinning hell. I remember thinking through most classes “I could just leave now” and yet somehow I made it through to the end. My new job though was not meant to be, and I knew this quite early on. I think I became more attached to my spinning routine as I tried to weather the setback of knowing I had joined the wrong job and organisation.
Fast forward 8 months and I’m now in another new job, and back in the industry I know I’m happy to be in (for now). However it’s been a baptism of fire starting this new one, and in many ways it’s been just as challenging of a time (albeit whilst knowing this is a positive change for good and that things wil certainly improve by the autumn). I’ve struggled maintaining my spin routine while settling into the new job and my life feels a little bit disjointed at the moment. I’m currently living by myself for the first time in my life while my housemate pursues a year long secondment in Asia, and my social life feels a little less exciting than it used to — I don’t know if this is because of a combination of the two reasons above, and also the fact I’m now in my late twenties…. I certainly feel like I used to do a lot more spontaneous things in my early/mid twenties as sad as it seems! My previous job (the one before the dud one) was also in a very sociable atmosphere and I don’t think I realised how much of an impact leaving that would have on my social life. I have another very close friend who has moved to New Zealand, the 4th friend I’ve lost in the last 2 years to a big move across the other side of the world. It has been an odd last couple of years (for a variety of reasons!) and I have been feeling a little lost.
I don’t know what spurred me on to click onto the register link for The Big Half. I suppose the cheap discounted entry price had me thinking I could drop out nearer the time without feeling too guilty. Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, when I was meeting with my friend (and ex workmate) Natalie* and I’d told her what I’d done. Little did I realise she was also in one of the four boroughs that this race was still open to, and Natalie, having done the Hackney Half Marathon last year, was up for a challenge. I encouraged her to sign up with me as we sat over a coffee, in disbelief at what we were signing ourselves up for. Later on it dawned on me… crap. There’s no WAY I can back out now!!
So now, I am taking stock and trying to take this seriously. I WILL be running 13.1 miles on Sunday 4th March 2018. I CAN change my way of running and I CAN take on a challenge of this size!
If there’s any challenge I want to do, it’s this one. In my area of London, the halfway point will be crossing my local bridge, Tower Bridge, and then pounding the streets of Bermondsey. I know from cheering at London Marathon that the London crowd is one of the most supportive and amazing crowds out there, and I know that I’ll need that. London won’t let me down I’m sure, and I don’t want to let London down.
So here I am… the challenge is set. The race will also take place exactly 3 weeks after I turn 30, something that is increasingly on my mind and I think the only way for me to combat overcoming that milestone is making sure it’s the best year ever. So I’m going to try and make that happen!
- names changed, for the purpose of keeping this blog a secret!