Last Sunday I ran for just under 4hrs 50minutes and finished the London Marathon. Aside for a few stops to hug friends and a frustratingly long queue for the portaloo at mile two, I tackled the streets of London and survived. In fact, I enjoyed it.
Getting a mile 18 boost from a favourite friend
I know that I’m supposed to share horror stories of bleeding nipples, lost toe-nails and hitting the infamous wall, but luckily all nipples and toes remain unscathed and, much to the disappointment of Alec who was looking forward to a good ‘wall story’, I managed to avoid any debilitating psychological lows. A surprise for us all
So, aside from being generous with the Vaseline, what else did I learn from doing the marathon?
1. We choose how we feel
In the week before the marathon I spent a lot of time eating sweet potatoes and a lot of time thinking about how easy I’d find the race. I imagined myself running effortlessly, feeling strong and crossing the the finish line with a smile. And I did. Positive visualisation is commonplace in sports training and although we know it can work in general life too, we still dwell more on the ‘what-ifs’ than the ‘what we’d likes’. Let’s break those habits and start pre-paving how we want to feel.
2.We create our own experiences
As I prepared for the marathon, I heard a lot about the ‘wall’ and how I was bound to hit it. Everyone did. Around mile 19 I’d reach a point where I could no longer continue and I’d have to grapple with my demons and push through. It didn’t happen. I’m pretty sure this was down to my positive thinking and the fistfuls of free sweets I’d eaten along the route, but whatever. The important thing to remember is that other people’s “certainties” don’t have to be ours. Finding a job you love isn’t unrealistic, starting a business doesn’t have to be impossibly hard, finding true love at any age isn’t a pipe dream. We don’t have to be constrained by other people’s opinions.
3. We get the most support when we feel it
There’s no way I would have had such a positive marathon experience without the support of friends, family and the thousands of cheering strangers lining the streets of London. This is what got me round. Eschewing the power ballads on my Ipod and listening to the shouts, whoops and cheers instead, I took every last drop of energy and I sent it to where I needed it the most: my legs. The positivity powered me when my own reserves were low. It seems odd, but consciously choosing to absorb the compliments and messages of support we receive rather than just hearing them makes a difference. Next time you’re struggling, focus on where you need the support most and then visualise past or present words of encouragement going to that point.
Finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone of you who entered the joyful raffle and sponsored me or sent me a god luck message. Every single message spurred me on when I needed it; I couldn’t have done it without you. I’m pleased to announce that the winner of the extra special joyful care package is Cara. Thank you.