Running the London marathon seemed like a great idea when I signed up. Get fit, raise some money for charity, be part of something amazing – what's not to love? But that was three years ago. Since then my marathon place has been deferred three times (twice for COVID, once for a holiday), there's been a global pandemic and I've been in both the best and probably worst shape of my life.
Basically, I'm right back where I started. We are now four weeks from the start, I am planning to get fit, raise some money for charity and be part of something amazing.
In terms of fitness, I can run further and faster than I could three years ago, but I’m not quite as fit as I was at the height of lockdown in January and February this year. Back then I'd run a hundred miles in a month and would take myself for a half marathon on a Sunday morning for fun…for fun! Looking back, I realise that – while extremely boring and negative in countless ways – lockdown was a brilliant opportunity for self-care, self-reflection, Government-sanctioned exercise and a welcome break from commuting, meetings and trips to the shop.
I have come to learn that running is a great escape. It's a chance to clear your mind, work through issues (usually work or wedding-related, in my case), get away from the laptop and enjoy some fresh air. During the height of lockdown I was running several times a week in the wind and rain, enjoying any break from staring at a laptop or a TV screen.
When restrictions eased I was so keen to rush back to normal life that I forgot the joys of taking myself out for a lunchtime run. Since "normality" has returned, my diary has been jam-packed with more commitments than ever because, like most people, I am trying to cram two years of fun into one summer. Honestly, it has felt like a bit of a struggle to get out for a run, particularly the long ones at the weekend. Those 'fun' half marathons just aren't that much fun anymore.
These are all excuses, of course. I am still very excited to be running the marathon and to be raising funds for a cause close to my heart. My brother has epilepsy, and he's been doing amazing work raising money for Epilepsy Action over the past two years by organising coffee mornings and virtual events, and even shaking down family friends. I am delighted to be doing my very small bit to raise my own money for such a great organisation. Hopefully I can be half as inspiring to others as my brother has been to me over the years. I just need to start my last-minute training…
Like with anything, the hardest part is finding the energy to take that first step. The mere fact that I'm calling the first step "the hardest part" is probably a clear sign that I've never run close to 26 miles. Wish me luck!
You can support Tom and donate to his great cause via his donation link.