Fears of the first time Marathon runner.

Training alone for months. Something that I would not wish upon anyone, yet It is something that I have done in order to get “marathon ready” and there are many others I know who have done the same – for what ever reason. Not having that running buddy next to you throughout can leave your feeling such despair. There has been no one to keep me going – everything I have done I have done alone. Getting out during the cold winter months, running the long miles – It has been me pushing myself to get out there and continue training.

In my final days, as I reflect on what I have achieved and how far I have come, I still have many fears that I cannot shake. Some are irrational and some are expected, either way in 9 days time I will meet what has become my biggest fear and I know I will not be alone.

In the meantime, as a way to help me rationalise these fears, I document them to help myself and hopefully help others.

Boredom has been a continued fear for me. As the miles started increasing I had no one to keep me going and at times I even cried and talked to myself. On a few occasions I stopped some long runs early simply due to the fact that I was bored. Bored of the same streets, my own company and not having comfort of another person next to me. I have been assured that this will completely different come race day. I will have runners beside me feeling all the pain and anguish I am. I will have spectators – some strangers keeping me going when all I want to do is cry and give up. I will also have loved ones – friends and family who have promised to be there to get a glimpse of me – to scream my name, give me a hug and if needed a kick up the ass to get through to the end.

Loneliness, which I have felt so much over the last six months. I suppose will come hand in hand with the boredom. I will not be alone. I will have the company of 39,000 fellow runners and anyone who has come down to cheer people on.

What if it is too hot? Something that has been in my thoughts lately with the higher than normal temperatures. When I think about the heat I get flash backs to Hackney Half Marathon last year and the souring temperatures. If I remember correctly it was heading towards the very high 20’s towards the end of the race and I keep remembering how that felt after training in the cold winter months. However, I would like to think I am slightly more experienced now and I don’t have the same health issues as I did back then. I need to shake this one off and deal with the temperature In a sensible manner.

How am I going to do this? I don’t think any day has gone by throughout training when I have not asked myself this question. And I think the one thing I have discovered is that I would not be normal If I did not ask myself this. There is a reason why It is something that only a select few do – it is bloody hard. Not only on your body, but on your mind. I think throughout training my mind has hurt so much more than my actual body. Even now, after hundreds of miles of training, I am still questioning myself. Asking why on earth did I sign up for this, how could I possibly do this? Answer is – I’m just going to have to. I don’t have to get a amazing time – I just have to finish – and on the day itself I suppose I am going to have to channel all the will power I have to get through.

I’m going to die, is one of the irrational fears that has been placed in my mind by non-runners. When I first accepted my place I had people saying “didn’t that guy die last year” or “you had pneumonia, you should not run.” Yes – sadly people have died running in previous years, but we don’t know what underlining medical problems they had. And, yes, I had pneumonia last year and It was scary. But you know what, I picked myself back up. And, okay I am no where as fit as I was before it happened, but if the consultant gives me the okay then as far I am concerned I am good to go. Plus, I now know the signs and I am far from where I was when I hospitalised. So the scaremongers among us can do one! Listen to your own body!

Pain. It is going to hurt, it is supposed to. Throughout training, there have been many, many days when something has caused me pain. I developed a groin injury at the end of February, which kept causing me grief until recently. Today, I developed pain in my shins – something I have never suffered with throughout my training. Pain is inevitable – but there have been times when I have just kept going through the pain and when the pain hits on race day I am going to have to find a way to do just that. And if the worst comes to the worst and find the need, I will have to walk. There is no shame in that.

The unknown. Something you cannot train for. I managed to get up to 18 miles during training (disappointingly, for silly reasons I did not get to 20) so I have no idea what to expect beyond mile 18. I have not go a clue how I am going to feel or how the last 8.2 miles is going to effect me. All I know is that I am capable of running eight miles without issue, I have done it over and over again during training, so I am going to have to adapt to how I feel on the day. The day itself brings a fear of the unknown – I have never run the route, I don’t know how I am going to feel on race day or what the weather is going to bring. It is simply unknown and the unknown can be scary!

So these are my fears. Rational or irrational as they may be – they are haunting me and will continue to do so until I cross that finish line.

9 days remaining. To all my friends who are running and to those I have met along my marathon journey – we can do this!

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