Going the distance - One mum's Marathon effort for Coram

Coram running vest7 April 2014

So next week by this time (10pm on Sun 6th April) I will have finished – at least I hope to have finished– the 2014 Virgin London Marathon.

I received my personalised running vest from Coram this week. It made it all suddenly feel quite real, exciting and scary. I feel proud to be part of the London Marathon running for a charity like Coram. It all feels quite worthwhile. I just have to reach and then exceed my fundraising target!!

My training in the last fortnight has been up and down due to either health or lack of time issues. I feel a bit sad that I haven’t trained the way I originally set out to. I approach next week with excitement, but not the level of confidence I would have wanted to have. If I had to do it all over again, here are the three things I would do better:

  1. Have a training plan right from the beginning
  2. Have at least one training partner (or be part of a running club) as it is difficult to motivate yourself especially when the weather is not so good OR when the weather is very good!
  3. Eat right. I took training as a license to eat whatever I wanted, abandoning even my usual reticence.  Eating right is important for many reasons including the level of energy required for the long runs.

My longest run - which I did last week - was 15 miles. I survived and there’s only another 11 miles to go! I sure hope that the vibe on the day carries me for that last stretch - see you on the other side! 


16 March 2014

Oh what a beautiful morning!

Group shot of runners in London MarathonNot a day to run really but training has to come a very resentful first now. It has been a shaky two weeks so feeling quite vulnerable about my readiness for the marathon.

I started my fortnight avoiding the very interval training I celebrated two weeks ago. The personal trainer had written me a programme aimed at increasing my fitness and enabling me to spend less time in the gym. At first I was delighted but soon realised I would need to really keep up the pace which frightened me a bit. My husband and I started joking about the possibility of me crying for help from the treadmill and after a while the jokes began to be counterproductive as I realised I was consciously delaying starting the programme. In the end, I just went for it and found it was the most fun I had running . . . ever! The best part was it only took 20mins of my time and meant I was able to tuck in a little bit of boxing and the rest of the exercise programme I had been given. Result.

Unfortunately, after my second session of interval training, my asthma which is mild and rears its head rarely, kicked in. This meant I was having problems running and well, breathing. But because I don’t often suffer, the only inhaler I had until I was able to see the doctor was one due to expire. So the week was dominated by trying to keep to some sort of a running plan when I couldn’t even walk fast without struggling to catch my breath.

But I was determined to give my planned long 14-mile run a go today. So off I set with my nearly expired inhaler. So I didn’t make the 14 but I did manage 12 deciding to forget the last two because (a) the weather was just too nice to ‘waste’ completely on training and (b) I was too exhausted to chastise myself into keeping to my plan.

Let’s see how next two weeks go.

3 March 2014

A rather tame fortnight I think.

Week commencing 17 February was a good one. I managed to prove that getting to almost 13 miles the previous week wasn’t a complete fluke by achieving (on purpose!) 12 miles on my long run. Pretty much achieved my target for the week of almost 32km. In fact, I found out why training was so important - it eventually gets easier the more you do it... you would think that I would know that by now but I was actually quite shocked that I got to 12 miles in one piece.

I am still achy but now starting to feel fitter. I do wish I looked fitter but that unfortunately is to do with the fact that I am eating well, all the time. Admittedly, eating somewhat more regularly and after hours is not isolated to this season of training. It does seem however that I have excused myself from the regular guilt by psychologically feeling I have a good reason for it. I have also noticed the shorter runs in the gym are becoming more difficult than the longer runs outside. Must be fewer distractions in the gym than being outside... or maybe all those machines with people on them looking like they would rather be anywhere else in the world than in the gym. What joy!

Last week wasn’t so good with training because I came down with a mild case of flu (which my son also had) towards the later part of the week. This meant I was not able to do my long run. I do hope I don’t lose any ground as a result of this. The highlight of the week was when I was told by one of the personal trainers in the gym that I didn’t have to run for an hour each time on the short runs to achieve the level of fitness required for the marathon. A revelation AND relief for me. These runs (the shorter ones) do seem to go on forever (says the person planning to run 26 miles!). The personal trainer also wrote me a 20-minute interval training programme which I hope will increase my fitness and enable me to spend less time in the gym during my mid week training sessions.  For the longer runs, there are no substitutes. Just to keep running and hoping my interval training puts me in better shape for them.

Not losing sight of why I am doing this, my last thought for this week is: how many ways can I think of raising more money through this marathon for Coram? I am very aware that the donations on my page are not currently at the level I want them to be. So, I have recruited my husband who has promised to blow me away with fabulous (well he didn’t use the word fabulous) money raising ideas. It’s been a week now, still waiting. Fabulous ideas do take time I guess to marinate so after another day or two, I think I will ask him so we can get on with the ‘business’ of actually raising the donations.  


17 February 2014

Another fortnight of training ends in a drama of sorts, same type though.

Runners in London

In my last blog, I reached a milestone, albeit by mistake. Two weeks later, who would have thought it (not me), my running this morning ended much the same way... got lost and achieved my best ever distance, 12.8miles! Admittedly I would rather have done that distance the way I planned, in two weeks’ time. My run this morning was supposed to have been 9 miles in total. It would have been laughable if I hadn’t dragged my husband into painstakingly planning the route to ensure (hah!) that I didn’t make the same mistake as the last time. 

Six miles into my run, I knew something was wrong, even though I could have sworn I followed the route in my head with the precision. Defiant this time, lost or not, I choose to feel proud of it. I can certainly feel all of the pain (I can barely walk) so I might as well feel the sense of achievement that goes with it. My pride though is another matter.

After my last blog, determined to do this right, I checked the information I had received from Coram’s Marathon team months ago. It had advice from a physiotherapist on how to train for the marathon. I was at a slight disadvantage because it was made from the point of view of planning a few more months of training than I had. I decided to follow the advice as best as I could and check out the planner website recommended. I was able to pull together a training programme from the software that allowed me time to live my life as well as train.

I did find though I was constantly tired and in pain. My body it seemed was taking a lot longer to adjust to the level of training I needed. It doesn’t help that I have a lovely toddler who is determined to test how fast I can run to catch him to protect him from, well everything both inside and outside of the house...blessJ

Still, I survive (slightly dramatic I know) putting one foot in front of each other, listening to the radio, music  or anything that can divert me from the fact that as tired as I feel after one of my long runs, I have miles more to go before April. Thank God, the tracks are clearly marked and there will be thousands of people running or I swear I would end up getting lost and finishing up in Brighton!


2 February 2014

Eight miles. Yay! (but how many more to go?)

Runners and crowds at the London Marathon

Well I think it’s eight miles. Up early for a run this morning and what was supposed to be a lazy five miles turned into at least eight because I took a new route and got lost and had to keep running (still counts eh?) until I stumbled on somewhere recognisable. Eventually I got home minus the pride one should feel when reaching a new milestone. The longest I had run previously was just over seven miles.

I have always wanted to run a marathon for no other reason than it seemed so far removed from the reality of anything I could manage – especially as I’ve never been an avid fan of running. I did manage a half marathon 13 years ago but have to admit my first thought when I crossed the finish line was ’thank God it’s not the full marathon or I would still have 13 more miles to go!’ And that was the younger and fitter version of me.

Not that I’m unfit. But running is something I have always felt I should do and my few miles, several times a week are somewhat forced. And when I was asked to take part in the marathon, euphoria was quickly followed by panic.  

Sad boy looking out of the windowWhat tipped the balance is the cause for which I am running. I am a mother and it breaks my heart to think there are children out there who need a stable family, so for me Coram is a very worthy charity. To say I admire the work it does is an understatement. I am inspired by  the commitment to improving children’s lives, including finding them permanent, loving families. I try to remember this when I am looking for reasons to get out of training.

It’s hard to take on board 26.2 miles at the moment, especially when I am still at eight miles and aching. But each donation I get motivates me a bit more and I do find I am getting myself out of the house, pounding the pavements or hitting the gym a bit more. In fact I can feel a new February resolution coming on. And yes, I hope to reach a new milestone by my next blog.  Do I hear 10 miles? Yikes!

Find out more about running the London Marathon for Coram




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