Let the running begin . . .
I have set out my goal, applied for the marathon, bought a domain name and set up a blog, I guess I better start running. But where to begin? Other then, go out and run, I don't really know how best to approach training for a marathon. I asked a wiser much more experienced running friend and I was pointed in the direction of my.asics.com. I was asked some very simple questions. . .
What distance do you want to run?
What can you currently run?
Are you guy or a girl?
And hey presto! It gave me a running plan. Easy peasy. The first 8 weeks is what they call 'pre-conditioning'. I am to ‘run at a jogging pace,' I am told ’ this session is designed to exercise the muscles used for running’. In other words, enjoy this phase while it lasts because the rest of you're training isn't going to be so easy. The 'pre-conditioning' started with short slow runs, 1 mile at a pace of 15 minutes a mile. Nice and comfortable. Then it progressed to 1.5 miles, increasing to 2 miles, 2.5 and so forth and so on. The pace remains slow and steady and every couple of runs I revert back to a shorter distance before increasing the mileage again. This is so my body has a chance to get used to all this new activity I am putting it through. I am now almost 4 weeks into my Asics plan and I am regularly running my all time furthest distance of a whopping 3 miles. This can mean only one thing . . . I have to run further. Next week my running plan says I am running 4.5 miles, two weeks after that it says 6 miles.
Now, to many of you this will sound a bit daft, but . . . I am scared that I’m not going to be able to do it. I fear I will get to 3.5 miles and collapse, unable to go any further. I’m scared that my body simply wont be able to run that far, that it will feel too hard, too impossible and I will have no choice but to give up. If I cant run 4.5 miles, how on earth am I ever going to be able to run a marathon?
Some of you will know, for those of you that don’t, a few years back I cycled from the Arctic to Africa. This makes me sound like some super human crazy fit person, I’m really not. But I remember when I was preparing for that bike trip, much like this marathon and running, I had never done any proper cycling before, and I remember thinking to myself ‘I’m going to cycle to Shoreham, I’ve never cycled that far and it seems like a pretty long way,’ it was only 8 miles. I set off and when I got there I felt like I was on top of the world. I was so pleased with what I had achieved, it felt incredible. I was completely naive to what was involved physically and mentally in actually cycling from the Arctic to Africa, but nonetheless, at the time, 8 miles was massive!
My looming 4.5 mile run next week feels very similar to my bike ride to Shoreham. When I complete it, I’m going to feel amazing, it is going to be a big achievement for me to break through my 3 mile barrier. But I’m not so naive anymore, I know some of what it takes to complete endurance challenges, 4.5 miles is going to feel fantastic at the time, yet somehow two weeks later I'm going to have to run 6 miles and then 8.5. I look at my running plan with dread wondering how am I going to do this? I ask myself why I decided to even do this in the first place? No one is forcing me. And then I remember how faithful God was when I cycled from the Arctic to Africa. Every day during that trip I questioned if I could finish it, there was plenty of opportunities to give up and fly home, but God gave me the strength to keep going and make it to the end. I have to trust that what may seem impossible for me, isn't impossible for God and that he is going to be right there beside me, every tired step, every ache, every mile, every check of my pace, he will be there. All the way until I reach 26.2 miles.
Here is a verse to help remind me, and anyone else who needs it, that no matter how scared or nervous I feel I will keep believing I can do this. Because I believe in a God where nothing is impossible.
"Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God." Mark 10:27 NLT
I am going to write this up and stick it on my wall, I’m going to need reminding regularly.