I had big marathon plans for 2020, Barcelona and Manchester planned for the spring with another European trip planned for the autumn. My training for Barcelona in March was going very well, I’d got my last long 20 mile training run in the bag before COVID-19 hit and the race was postponed less than 2 weeks before the event. Manchester followed suit shortly afterwards.
My trip to Barcelona still went ahead albeit very different to what was planned. On Sunday 15th March, rather than running 26.2 miles around the sites of the city, I ran a rather boring 7 miles on the hotel treadmill.
Running has been big help to me in managing my mental health. It allows me to be alone with my thoughts and throughout lockdown and working from home, I ran each day once I had finished work as a “commute”. This helped massively. It was my new routine, allowing me the time needed to process my day.
As time went on, I found it more and more difficult to motivate myself to push on. Normally I have a race to train for and without that I really struggled.
I’ve been fortunate to run marathons in cities such as Paris, Berlin, New York and Chicago. The one that has always eluded me is London. I’ve been unsuccessful in the ballot for the last 10 years. With this years race being postponed until October and open to only elites, the organisers gave others the opportunity to run the race as a virtual event. Basically, for anyone to run 26.2 miles on Sunday 4th October anywhere in the world. This was just the motivation I needed.
I signed up to the event and resumed my training. It gave me that much needed boost and goal. I planned my route, including a pit stop at my in-laws and tried to recreate my normal race routine.
I carb-loaded the night before and got a good nights sleep before setting off at 7am on race day. It was very different running my own race and not having the support from the crowds on the street but I got my head down and ran. The first 20 miles went by and I was feeling good. The last 10k was tough, thankfully I was met by my family towards the end and my 2 children ran the last 2 miles with me to bring me home to my own finish line.
It was certainly very strange running the London Marathon in Manchester but I finally have that medal that I have wanted for a long time.
Wellbeing is all about finding what works for you. I recognised I was struggling and found that motivation factor. Exercise is important. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, it could be something as simple as gardening or walking to the shops. Be realistic and work towards that goal.