01:06PM, Friday 06 September 2019
The results of the Maidenhead Half Marathon went online this week and they made me wince. The fastest finisher, a man named Rob Corney, managed to do it in 1hr 8mins 30secs. That is only four minutes slower than it took me to run around Richmond Park - a 7.3-mile route - last Friday. A half marathon is 13.1miles, almost double the distance.
My attempt at the Windsor Half Marathon will take place in just under four weeks, and I am starting to feel a little under-prepared. I went on holiday last week, so was only able to fit in one run, rather than my usual two, and went with my dad around Richmond Park.
The issue is that it was really, really hard. There was a big hill about two miles in, and all I wanted to do was give up while I was running up it. We stopped briefly at a water fountain at about halfway around, and when we started again my legs were stiff and sore. With two miles to go, I could feel the lactic acid coursing through them, burning my muscles away. If this is how I feel running seven miles, how the hell am I going to do 13?
I know this is why I’m training, to teach my body how to put up with more pain and expand how far I can push myself, but it’s psychologically draining too. After a hard day at work, I have to force myself to go out and physically and mentally exhaust myself. My training is now at the stage where my runs are all taking at least an hour, it’s not like I’m just popping out for a quick jog, or a nice 5k.
My dad loves running. He does it for fun and when he isn't out doing it he likes to read books and articles about it. He told me about how he read that there are two ‘flavours’ of runners - those who do it for ‘work’ and for ‘pleasure’.
I’m almost jealous of the people who do it for pleasure. The time they spend running is like ‘play’ time - it's like the equivalent for me of watching a football match or playing video games. For me, and many others I expect, running is work. It’s a means to an end, just another way of keeping fit. Yes, it is rewarding when it is over, but the greater the distance the greater the pain. When you finish the run and you’ve got a good time, you get a buzz, but when it goes badly, it's just a wasted hour.
Maybe I am being melodramatic - I was happy when I finished my Richmond Park run, and it was the furthest I had run since 2013 when I did my first half marathon, so perhaps I should cut myself some slack.
I wanted to give up, but I didn’t, and I’m proud of myself for hanging in there, but right now 13 miles feels a long way off.
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