My first marathon was disastrous – less a run and more a half marathon with a thirteen mile walk on the end. There were a number of reasons, but essentially it was due to a lack of training. If there’s one thing I’m good at it’s convincing myself that it’s okay to stay on the sofa tonight, because I will definitely run tomorrow.
On the back of that marathon, I decided two things. The first was that I would run another and another and another until I got it right, and the second was that I would do more training.
Fortunately, my ability to procrastinate is tempered by curiosity and impulsiveness.
The former led me to follow a link to the Centurion Running website to find out more about the South Downs Way 100 mile event that several bloggers had been talking about. The latter found me emailing the Centurion Running team to sign up for some coaching.
Me, back of the pack runner with one marathon under her belt, asking them, phenomenal ultra-runners, to coach me. Although, to be honest, I didn’t at the time realise quite how phenomenal they were. I just thought
“Oooooh! Ultra-runners. They probably think “it’s only a marathon”. Wouldn’t it be nice to be coached by people who don’t build a marathon up into massive deal? And if I ever got to the point where I could run Comrades, it would give me an excuse to go to South Africa to run some of their parkruns!”
Impulsive or not, ridiculous or not, it was, quite simply, the best running-related decision I have ever made.
Because it turns out that as well as being phenomenal runners, they are also great coaches who are perfectly happy to design programmes for unremarkable plodders with a parkrun obsession.
Since I signed up in July, my training had been challenging without being daunting, structured around real life commitments, and varied enough to be interesting. It has also been backed up with feedback that is unrelentingly constructive and which can find a positive learning point from pretty much any situation, however disastrous.
All of which has resulted in a massive marathon pb, my first ultra marathon, my first sub-two hour half marathon and fifth place on the Janathon table of doom.
And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll even catch myself thinking “Hey! It’s only a marathon!”