This weekend, I ran my 6th marathon in Farnham, aptly named “the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon”.
Known as one of the toughest events in the Uk, We had absolutely no idea what we were letting ourselves in for. Within the first mile, you were faced with an uphill run, on no less than a 20 degree incline, which was the first of many. Queue 5 hours of uphill, downhill, trails, woods, paths, before finally making it over the finish line. All for a medal and a T-shirt (and a smug look on my face as I destroyed a pizza afterwards).
Here is a lovely picture of us before we started the run. Look how happy we are, blissfully unaware of the hell that awaits.
When I get asked “why on earth do you run marathons” I usually refer them to one of my favorite blogs about running, courtesy of the oatmeal.com (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running) as it sums up exactly why I got into running. So here is a quick run down from my point of view, as to why running marathons is worth shedding toenails for.
I hated sports at school, and shamefully, I would use my asthma inhaler as a beacon, shouting out “I CANT DO SPORTS, MY LUNGS DONT WORK” on more occasions than not. Also. I love food, and can’t see myself ever being the kind of person who does juice cleanses and eats kale every day (someone pass me the cake batter).
Perfect Example – Goes for a run, comes home to eat ice cream, then dinner, then toast.
Now, I got into running around 2ish years ago. And to anyone who thinks running isn’t for them, trust me, when I started running, it was not for me. I remember my first run very vividly- I ran a mile and puked. I never thought it would lead me to running ultra marathons, numerous marathons, etc. and now I’m contemplating a 100km race next year. Crazy? Yes. and not afraid to show it.
For me, running has always been a therapeutic thing. When I’ve had a terrible day, I go out and run out all my anger and frustration. Equally, when I’ve had a good day, I go out and run. It allows me a couple of hours on a Sunday morning (when I do my long runs) to process my week, and prepare for the week ahead. I run in the sunshine, or the rain, but not the snow. Cloudy skies are my favorite thing. I hate getting sunburn! It also lets me get home and plough through the contents of my fridge in the manner of a waste disposal unit. (my spirit animal is a biffa bin). Not that I have a bad diet, but one of the reasons I started running was down to me wanting to shift some weight. I tried on a size 14 coat once, and it didn’t fit. Something had to change. So my diet did, because you can eat a tonne of cake, crisps, chocolate etc, but you wont run any faster. Or, you can save the indulgences for after your long runs, and before a big race, and just eat sensibly the rest of the time. No need to go to any extremes, just put down the cake every now and again.
So running took over my life.
I’ve run a number of races, some well-known (London, Brighton, the Royal Parks Half to name a few) but my favorite races are the ones where its less than 100 runners at the start line, getting up at the crack of dawn to run around for 30 miles in the New Forest. The smaller the better for me, as long as there is a medal (and maybe some trail mix, and cake. definitely cake. And Marmite sandwiches. Great. Now I’m hungry). My local races in Portsmouth are a good example, usually its only about 500 people doing the marathon (on the Sunday before Christmas, yes, we are insane) and its a brutal off-road run from Southsea to Hayling Island and back. You cross the finish line completely windswept (not in a good sense) with mud all up your legs, sea salt all in your hair, cold, sweaty and gross. But then you get the medal and FEEL LIKE A KING. It’s a great sense of achievement, and as its right before Christmas, you can indulge a little over the festive period, guilt free.
I’ve also made some amazing friends through running. ;The group I ran the Farnham marathon with are an amazing bunch who like me, run for nothing more than the glory of a shiny medal and to eat some cake. I genuinely believe runners are the best type of human being. Nowhere else in sports do you get so much encouragement from the people you are technically competing against. People running past you, exhausted, sweaty and gross, saying “well done”, “you’re doing amazing”, “we’re almost done!”, crossing over the finish line with complete strangers who kept you going for the last mile and made sure you didn’t walk, because you asked them to make sure you didn’t walk. You wouldn’t get that in football.
These are from the Ultra marathon I ran in May, quite possibly, the best run I’ve done.
So there we have it. I’ve shared with you why I love running. Why not try it?
I’m not saying everyone has to go out and run an ultra marathon. Or any kind of marathon. But I will say this. If you have a park run close to you, why not go along on Saturday morning? They’re free, and you can meet some great new people. Running isn’t just about London marathon and being the fastest person out there. It’s about competing against yourself and testing yourself. Push your boundaries a little. You might just surprise yourself. And medals.