Your Stories: Peter's marathon journey

Running. Something that I always tried to enjoy but found hard to maintain unless I had some focus, some goal.

Without a goal, I found it harder to put the trainers on and get out there on a cold and dark evening. I have previously set myself smaller goals, running 5k, 10k and an occasional half marathon. Each April would come and I would watch the London Marathon, be inspired and enter the ballot. I never had the luck to get a place but, if I’m honest, there was always a bit of me that was relieved as it meant I didn’t “have to” commit to months of training. We all lead busy lives but I was also unsure how I would ever fit a growing training schedule into my week. Last year, I made the mistake of not setting any goals and found that my activity levels were waning, April came around and I watched the London marathon. This time, as well as entering the ballot, I decided to embrace the challenge of running the London Marathon from a different perspective and looked into gaining a charity place. 

There are hundreds of charities, how was I going to choose one? I came across The Family Holiday Association, I was taken in by the idea of providing a short but real escape from the difficult environment that some families find themselves in. I immediately thought of the holidays that I had as a kid and those that I have gone on with my own children. Holidays, days away are a real highlight of our year and are times that stand out when I look back on my own childhood. I was delighted when I heard that I had been accepted to run on behalf of this charity but I was also a bit daunted. 

The autumn and winter was a really busy time for me personally. I had some postgraduate studies that were reaching conclusion and so deadlines were looming. I kept my fitness “ticking over” but had January as my start point. 

The physical training has been quite tough.  As a physiotherapist, it seems that everyone assumes that I won’t get injured but unfortunately that hasn’t been true.  I fell into the same trap that so many runners that I have treated before. I ramped my training up a bit too quickly and learned that my knees weren’t too happy. Luckily, I recognised some of the signs and backed off the training and added in some much needed strength and conditioning. I completed a half marathon which was a great event and good to run in a mass participation event as well. 

So after a brief setback, I have been able to progress things a bit. I don’t think there is a one size fits all approach that works with running but here are few tips that I have found useful...

I  ensure to do some strength and conditioning, working on the main muscle groups that support our lower limb joints including the gluteals, adductors, abs and calves. I am now trying to do 2-3 sessions of 20 min circuits a week of doing home exercises focussing on these exercises.

The next tip would be to try to avoid overtraining. The main mistake I have made is trying to catch up with a missed run by squeezing it in later in the week and not leaving enough time for recovery and increase chance of injury.

The last tip I’d have would be to try and do one run a week without tracking it on your watch or strava etc. I find it’s a nice run to do without thinking of what splits I’m running or thinking about the distance or time I’ve covered.

The fundraising was another great challenge for me. I started with the Just Giving page and then started to hint at family and friends. I have soon learned that I needed to be a bit more direct if I was to get anywhere and soon the donations started to drip in.

I have held a quiz night which was a great success. We had a quizmaster who set up a quiz run on tablets and it was very competitive. I approached lots of local businesses in my area and had some great donations for a raffle which also raised some more money. I also have run a cake sale at work (I only managed to get a picture after loads of the cakes had been bought!) which was well received and helped raise some more. I’m edging closer to my target and hope I’ll get there in the next few weeks.

I’m not sure how everyone else feels about it but for me this marathon is a lot more than the race and day itself. The support from family, friends, colleagues and local businesses and the interest they have shown in my goal has been fantastic and humbling in a lot of ways. It has also connected me with new friends and people. It has also helped me feel like I am contributing to a great cause and try to make a positive difference to other people’s lives. I am itching to get to the start line of the marathon. The finish line will hopefully be met with a sense of achievement but also I hope it whets my appetite for the next challenge.


Peter

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