If you follow me on my Instagram or twitter then you will know that I have signed up for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2016 (I was lucky enough to qualify as Good for Age – so don’t panic if you’re reading this and worrying about not hearing about your result in the ballot).
Why have I signed up for another year of marathon madness? The answer is because it was one of the best experiences of my life, and this isn’t just from the day. In fact the day is just a small part of the experience, and most of the benefits of running a marathon come from the months of training. If you feel like you want to give a marathon a go but are unsure about signing up then here are my five favourite things about marathon training.
Running a marathon requires a lot of mental strength, and this requires training like any other body part. You practice being bored and how to push yourself mentally, and being able to summon this sort of motivation, focus and strength spills over into the rest of your life.
Marathon training gives you the mental resilience to pull through a tough day and motivate yourself to think logically, positively and proactively. Without realising it you take on a far more ‘can do’ and problem solving attitude.
Marathon training can be physically and mentally punishing, but it is also really rewarding and can bring a real ‘feel good’ factor. This is not just because of all the endorphins you get with the famous ‘runner’s high’, but because it provides short and long term goals as you run further and faster than you did before. Experiencing yourself get stronger and overcome your mental objections to running a seemingly never ending distance is truly empowering. Then there is the big goal of the day itself…
This is a tricky subject. It’s not that I lack body confidence, but I definitely have my ‘fat days’ like any other twenty something person on this planet, and whilst I love working out for the feeling of strength that it gives me, it can be hard not to be ultimately driven by thoughts of your figure and appearance.
Marathon training really confirmed a healthy relationship with body image for me. This is because the overarching goal was completing the marathon, and to do that my body had to be strong, properly fuelled and properly rested in equal measure. This meant that what my body then looked like became, well, unimportant. My body had to do good, not look good. In this regard I found marathon training really liberating.
Sleep like a baby
Marathon training makes you sleep incredibly well. This is because it both relaxes you from your stressful day at work and helps you feel more peaceful and in control of whatever life throws at you, as well as physically tiring you out!
I still felt tired at the end of a long day, but I felt tired without being wired to then stay up and binge on Netflix and stress about what I was going to do the next day. It’s a really good, wholesome and harmonious sensation of tired as your body and mind responds to good energy cycles.
Finally, whilst simply signing up for a marathon is an achievement and completing one is really something special, I am a little bit on the competitive side…. (don’t play board games with me as I will ruin them, especially Cluedo). I want to challenge myself to learn where my weaknesses in training appeared and train those out to run a stronger and less injured marathon.
Virgin Money London Marathon 2016 here I come…
If you’re interested in taking part and you didn’t enter the ballot then the only option left is through a charity, like I did last year for Spinal Research. If you’ve decided that a marathon is the right choice for you but are intimidated by the fundraising then my advice would be to go for it! Fundraising terrified me but by being honest about my motivation and open about my training I found people became really interested in what I was doing and felt motivated to sponsor me. The key is to be really clear about why you’re running so it is important to pick a charity for whom you feel a real connection or passion.