The Crew Chief keeps nagging me to register for a marathon. This is a bizarre reversal of just a few years ago, when I wrote this blogpost about the perils of bartering with your other half about excessive race schedules. As I’ve mentioned before, in the 15 months since completing The Wall Run I’ve struggled with motivation, injury, distractions, work, lethargy, drinking too much beer and becoming a dreadful fatty. I don’t want to register for a marathon.
But I do want to be a runner again. I want to be the one who spends hours every week dashing down footpaths and hauling himself up hills and discovering secret views that folk trapped in cars don’t see. I want to be out in the cold and the rain and the snow and the heat, barrelling down wild descents and bursting through narrow gaps in hedgerows and dry stone walls. I want to buy new running shoes and pair them with ancient race T-shirts. I want my non-running friends to be a bit exasperated, and for my running friends to invite me to train with them again.
The old demons are still there. I’m at least a bit heavier than I was and the trouble in my left ankle that I’ve been carrying for four years now is still a problem. My commute still saps my energy and I still can't get out of bed in time for a run before work. I’m a hell of a lot slower than I was, too. Like two minutes a mile slower.
But I do want to be a runner again.
The Crew Chief wants me to register for a race because she knows that in the past it’s been the main motivator for my running, which I can then legitimately call ‘training’. But more recently I’ve managed to tie myself up in knots with pre-race anxiety over even the least intimidating runs. I need to address that before I sign up to something big.
So my new plan (sorry) is to create a strong base with which to run a marathon, not register for a marathon for which I will need to create a strong base. The training, the health benefits, the sense of wellbeing and satisfaction will be the output, and a marathon might be one the outcomes. When I’m fit enough, then I’ll think about another 26.2.
That doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but trust me, it is. I want to be a fit guy who could run a decent marathon, not a guy who is fit because he is planning to run a marathon. The relief of that pressure is enormous, and I hope it will make me a runner again.