I’ve never really been part of the last minute brigade. Well, not in my adult years anyway. As with pretty much everything, doing things at the last minute can be good and bad, depending on what it is and what the outcome is. A former colleague of mine popped up on Strava this week, posting his first run since 2019 with a short plod, announcing that he was training for the London Marathon. This year. In a few weeks. From nothing. Part of me wants to warn him away from it, part of me wants to watch him kick its arse. A huge part of me wants to try it for myself, being a massive fan of physical suffering. I just don’t think I’d survive allowing my fitness to drop deliberately. The marathon distance is mostly a mind battle, so if he’s got that, he will probably do it.
I do believe in good preparation, wether it’s getting the essentials for my mini-me ready the night before, or packing a day bag for a walk in the mountains. With so many races under my belt from 10km to ultra marathons, I have prided myself on full prep from training, to kit and bits needed on the day itself. The other week however, I well and truly threw myself in at the deep end.
I’m a bit of a sucker for keeping traditions like doing Run Every Day January, marking the summer solstice, and trying to ignore my own birthday. I also have two half marathons that I started doing ten years ago as my first ones and decided back then that I’d aim to do ten on the bounce. With the inconvenience of Covid, I’m still aiming for them due to cancellations. In 2012 I ran my first half marathon with my sister and her friend Jack. We trained together, and all completed the run, feeling immensely proud of ourselves and promising to get the band back together in early 2013 to do another one. Only my sister and I ran that one, and since then, only I have ran all of them.
I hadn’t seen Jack for ten years almost, when he turned up at my niece’s 5th birthday party. We got to talking again like old times and he mentioned he’s back running again and has entered another half marathon. I mentioned the half marathon my sister and I had ran in 2013 and told him it was coming up again soon, and that he should enter it. Normally (every other bloody year) it has been ran in March and this was the start of February. With Jack stood next to me, I looked it up online on my smart telephonic contraption and found, to my horror, it was the next day – a month earlier than usual. After a swift change of underwear, I naturally filled out the online entry form and rapidly changed my weekend plans. Luckily, I’m pretty much a complete loner so didn’t have anyone to let down.
The next morning, I set out with no expectations at all. The sun was shining, and although a little chilly, I had a warm up run with a bloke I know from my local ParkRun whom I bumped into when I got out of my car.
Long story short, I completed the run in a time that I was pleased with all things considered and really enjoyed myself. What interests me the most is my mental approach to these things. I do enjoy testing my physical and mental resolve with my outdoor pursuits and seeing how I cope when I’m backed up against the wall. Despite all the feelings and downs I’ve been experiencing recently in my personal life, I’ve found the outdoors and running in particular to be the one area that I have complete confidence in myself and my abilities. I am my own supporter, my own critic, my own motivation and I am the one to thank when things go well and to look at closer and hold accountable when they don’t. I was once described as a lone wolf. Not sure about the comparison to a wild intuitive and clever animal, but the lone bit is definitely a cape I wear these days – sometimes reluctantly but that’s how it is.
I’ll close with a t-shirt quote I once saw:
Don’t rush me. I’m waiting for the last minute.