Someone shared this in the Mind Brighton and London Marathons Facebook group and I don’t think there’s anything I needed to hear more right now as I try and quiet my brain from telling me I’m not capable of running my first marathon.
This is for all of us who are doubting ourselves as we enter the marathon taper.
All of us who are dealing with niggles, old and new, wondering how the hell we’re gonna get round the course next Sunday (or the one after if you’re running London).
For all of us who, like me, for the past 15 weeks, have been, and still are, battling equal measures of excitement and terror at what lies ahead, just read this…
Right now you are already in or are about to enter the taper for the marathon. Perhaps you’re new to this running craze, perhaps you’ve been at this for literally a life time. For some of you this is your first marathon, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to an experience that very few races can match.
You’ve been following your training plan to the best of your ability. You’ve ran mile after mile discovering places so close to your own home that you never even knew existed. Your washing basket filled with sports gear at an alarming rate.
You ran in the cold. You ran in the rain. You ran in the warming spring sunshine.
You went out when others stayed home. You were out running so early on a Sunday morning, whilst others simply pulled the covers over their heads.
The time that used to be filled with your feet pounding those streets relentlessly will soon be replaced by silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.
It won’t be pretty.
It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren’t ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn’t know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:
You are ready.
Your brain won’t believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish – that there is too much that can go wrong.
You are ready.
Finishing a marathon is never an accident. It’s the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all those long runs will be worth it. It comes from that first long run where you wondered, “How will I ever be ready?” to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go…knowing that you’d found the answer.
It is worth it. Now that you’re at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.
You are ready.
You will make your way over to the start line feeling more nervous than you have in a long time but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here. The volume of people on that start line will simply take your breath away.
You’ll see people in fancy dress outfits, you’ll see charity runners so proud of what they are about to accomplish, you’ll see serious athletes in pure focus.
The countdown will happen, the race will start and you will eventually shuffle over the start line. You’ll stop thinking about the marathon, because you’re now racing it!
The voices, the cowbells, and the relentless clapping will give you a hero’s sendoff and you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face. If it’s your first marathon then you will run the first mile too quickly. Everybody does.
Mile 2 will come and you’ll settle down to your race. The crowds won’t disappear, they were with you at the start and they will be with you every step of the way. You’ll get into your rhythm and start to control your marathon.
More miles will pass. Maybe you’re feeling great. Maybe you’re not feeling so good now. You’ll keep running. You’ll keep drinking at the water stations.
You’ll keep moving.
Put on your game face. This is your day.
You’ll pass half way. Doubts will fight for your focus. Have I gone too quickly, am I too tired to make it to the end? It’s your mind playing tricks on you. Everyone struggles here.
Stopping would be nice, but you won’t – not here.
You’ll cover more miles, you’ll get past 16 miles and think – I’m down to single digits now. Listen to the crowd. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes.
Smile when they cheer for you – your body will get just that little bit lighter.
Grind. Fight. Suffer. Persevere.
You’ll get past mile 20 and your legs will be sore. That’s okay. You knew it couldn’t all be that easy. You’ll think only 10k to go, that’s one of my shorter training runs. No matter how you feel, don’t panic – this is the part of the day where whatever you’re feeling, you can be sure it won’t last.
You’ll keep moving. You’ll keep drinking. Maybe you’ll be right on plan – maybe you won’t. If you’re ahead of schedule, don’t worry – believe. If you’re behind, don’t panic – roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for the marathon, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that it’s probably not going to work out perfectly.
How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don’t waste energy worrying about things – just do what you have to when you have to, walk if you must but keep moving. Keep drinking.
Just don’t stop – don’t EVER stop.
Last few miles now. Run if you can. Walk if you have to. Just keep moving.
You’ll start to believe that you’re going to make it. You’ll start to imagine how good it’s going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don’t want to move anymore, think about what it’s going to be like when someone catches you… and puts a medal over your head… all you have to do is get there.
You’ll hit mile 25. Your marathon will have 1.2 miles – just 2km left in it. You’ll start to approach that finish. You’ll start to realise that the day is almost over. You’ll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run, but you’ll ask yourself, “Where did the whole morning go?”
You’ll be standing on the edge of two feelings – the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.
You’ll run. You’ll find your legs. You’ll fly.
You won’t know how, but you will run. The last few yards will come and you will see that finishing clock. When you get there, it’ll stop for you.
Soon they’ll see you. Soon, everyone will see you cross that finishing line.
The finishing line is in sight. You’ll keep running. Nothing will hurt.
The moment will be yours – for one moment, it will seem like the entire world will be looking at you and only you.
You’ll pass under the finishing gantry, 26.2 miles after starting your journey.
You’ll stop. You’ll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly…be capable of nothing more.
Someone will catch you. You’ll lean into them.
It will suddenly hit you.
YOU HAVE JUST FINISHED THE MARATHON!
You are ready. You are ready.
Don’t you think words are just so powerful?
That’s why I love writing. I wish I’d written that.
Now hands up who’s got a lump in their throat?! *throws hands in the air*