I ran my first half-marathon in Aberystwyth. It wasn’t a race. Just shoes-on-and-go, accompanied by Amelia from riverside to beach. At the end, my exact words were “I can’t imagine doing that twice.”
In November 2020, the british government announced a second lockdown. Running was my ticket to the world outside so very soon I was tying my laces again. I repeated the virgin half-marathon training plan because I liked the rhythm of running three days a week. But one day I accidently opened the training plan for a full marathon.
Curiosity took over after that. It didn’t look so bad after all, and I’ve never regretted a run, so I decided to take it one day at a time to see how far I could get.
Snowy days were the hardest. You can’t see straight. It’s slippery. Every step feels dangerous and deliberate. A couple times, I went out with my swimming goggles on, which I was later surprised to hear is quite normal?
Marathon day was 21 February 2021, another shoes-on-and-go affair. I ran through Bromley, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, Mile end, Victoria Park, Tower Bridge, the Southbank and Battersea Park, diving into the occasional corner-shop for water and fruit. The lonely four and a half hours ended with two close friends (Darius and Lewis) and a mushroom burger. My reward for finishing was their flawless humour, a relief from the pain.
Earlier that week, I made a last-minute decision to open a fundraising page where I dedicated the run to a loved one who died of breast cancer. I tracked the run on Strava and shared the page with friends and family. I’m still stunned by their messages of support. In hindsight, I wasn’t running alone. Within two days we had raised over £1000.
“Most of what I know about writing fiction, I learned by running every day”. - Haruki Murakami
The marathon is a timeless analogy for our daily pursuits. Are you striving towards a goal? Then you’re engaged in the exercise of not giving up. You’re running a solo marathon. Don’t underestimate how far the rhythym of a simple routine can carry you. If you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll eventually look back and find that you’ve travelled farther than you ever imagined possible.