Marathon training: That first run

If all had gone to plan, I’d be sat here now telling you what an awesome time I had beating my personal best at this year’s Wigan 10K.

Instead, I’m sat here gloomily anticipating my upcoming knee surgery, and re-posting a piece I originally published on One Small Step, a short blog I updated during my training for the 2012 London Marathon.

Running the 2013 Wigan 10K

Here goes.

The filthy black sky loomed large on that ice cold Autumn morning back in 2011. Yanked violently from my slumber by a shrieking alarm, I paced around the house to the beat of my own optimism.

The world outside seemed dead, lifeless, but I felt more alive than I had in a long while.

Earlier that week, I’d sent off all the paperwork and officially accepted the challenge to run the 2012 Virgin London Marathon.

That was the easy bit, but now there was work to be done.

Even though I’d applied to run the marathon way back at the start of the year and thought about it often since, my mind still gorged on doubt.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think I’d be up to the challenge once it presented itself, more that it would never present itself in the first place.

I’d heard that marathon places were not always the easiest thing to acquire, and had serious doubts that they’d let an out-of-shape slob such as myself enter.

Alas, they did, and I was woefully ill-prepared.

Fashioning a makeshift running kit out of a pair of sweatpants, an old t-shirt and my least-ruined footwear, I limbered up with some all-important stretching, flicked on the MP3 player, set a stopwatch on my phone and left the house.

My feet pounded the cold, uneven pavement before me as the sound of German heavy metal merchants Rammstein carried out a similar assault on my ear drums.


This didn’t seem so bad. One foot in front of the other. One small step at a time.

“Du Hast!”

The end of my street approached and then passed by me, a middle-aged woman in a heavy coat shuffled towards the bus stop. The beating of my heart became heavier, harder.

“Du hast mich!”

My lungs throbbed in my chest, pushing out a sharp air which scratched against my throat before squeezing through panting lips.

“Du hast mich gefragt!”

Got to keep going. One foot in front of the other. Push on, push forward. My legs ached. My head brain swirled inside my skull. Keep going. Almost back home now.

“Du hast mich gefragt und ich hab nichts gesagt!” 

There it was; the finish, my house.

I heaved through the garden gate and collapsed through the front door, staggering slowly into the house as my chest heaved with heavy breath and a heart which beat as hard and heavy as the thumping music in my ears.

I’d done it.

That was my first run over with.

My heart and lungs seemed ready to burst out of my chest like that weird little creature in the Alien film, but my mind felt good.

I’d run hard, and I must have for quite a long time, right? After all, why would I be so exhausted?

Moving over to the table where my phone lay idle, I hit the big “stop” button on stopwatch.

My eyes widened. I stared, just for a moment, at the time on the screen.

Eight minutes, 24 seconds.

Uh oh. That wasn’t good.

If I was ever going to complete this marathon in April I’d have to work even harder than I thought, but at least I’d taken the first small step, at least I’d begun, and beginning is the most important part of the work.

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