One year ago just now, I found myself wondering whether I could build on a 10k run and take up the challenge of running a marathon. Twelve months on with a marathon and a half marathon in the bag, one 10k done and another on the way, and a few parkrun 5ks under my belt, I find myself pondering, “what next?”.
One thing that I have done throughout this year is always have a challenge in mind. After one race was complete, I quickly moved on to the next event. While I was not necessarily going straight from one event to the other without a break – I had a plan, had a bit of rest, then got back into training for the next event.
“I am in a bit of a dilemma”
Following the half marathon a couple of weeks ago, I had a few days of rest before running again, and with a 10k run planned in two weeks time, it is just a case of ticking over until the next starting line. This part is straightforward enough, and as I am running with a friend who is doing his first 10k, I am looking forward to not trying to push myself to get a PB, but just to go out and enjoy the run. But as we head towards winter I am in a bit of dilemma.
The next couple of months are really hectic with a whole variety of work and personal commitments taking up a lot of my time, particularly at weekends, so fitting my running in will be a bit of a challenge. No greater challenge than others face, but it is a bit of a thought if I am honest.
But why would I be running at all if I do not have a race in mind? I have written before about the enjoyment of running – even when the runs are tough – so there is little question in my mind about giving everything up at this stage and simply stopping going for a regular run. I have done so much and built up my fitness that the last thing I am going to do is throw it all away.
“Is that a challenge too far?”
So what next? What challenge do I need? To be honest, I am really not sure. Some 10ks and a half marathon, at this stage, do not really fill me with a great deal of excitement. I am in the ballot for the London marathon, but I am pretty fatalistic about my chances of getting in. Perhaps another Spring marathon is what I need? I am very tempted to sign up for the Edinburgh Marathon next year. Maybe I could return and do the Stirling Marathon once again? Next year I am 50. Should I try for a 50k ultra and aim for that? Or is that a challenge too far? Am I really committed to training through the winter again, given how hard that was this year?
All of these questions are swirling around my head at the moment. I think part of it is the comedown after getting that sub-2 hour half marathon time a couple of weeks back. I think this is almost inevitable after achieving a goal. This is what amazes me about sports people at the highest level – the desire and sheer will to keep going even after they attain the highest honours, the medals, the fastest time, the records, the number one spot. Retaining that motivation really does take something special. I am not special, but I have been really motivated.
My running since the half marathon itself has been fine. I have not been running particularly far – pretty much just doing 5ks – but my times have been good, to the extent I set my fastest mile time this week on a morning run through a very flat Slough town centre while staying there during a work visit. This week I can look forward to more flat running as work takes me to Amsterdam for seven days.
“something I think about a heck of a lot more than I should”
When I set out to run the marathon I never, for a moment, thought that I would be seriously considering running another. I definitely believed this would be a one time deal; a lifetime goal to be achieved, then put away, reflected upon and looked back on in years to come. I had not anticipated how much running would, at times, take over my life and become something I think about a heck of a lot more than I should. I recently mentioned to someone I know that I was thinking about going for another marathon and he said, ” you really are a glutton for punishment”. I do not see it that way.
I think part of why I feel as I do at the moment is also driven by fear. The fear that if I do not have a target to aim for I will let things slip and go back to my previous bad habits. It is now more than two years since I decided I wanted to change my lifestyle, lose weight and get healthy (which you can read about in my posts 2016 – Reinventing Me (Part 1), 2016 – Reinventing Me (Part 2), 2016 – Reinventing Me (part 3) and 2016 – Reinventing Me (Part 4)). When I look in the mirror, I often still see a fat guy looking back and I know I need to keep reminding myself about how far I have come, how much I have done. But it is not easy.
I think the way out of this is to take the plunge and sign up for the race. That was what I did last year, after thinking about doing it for a few weeks and talking to a few friends about it. After doing that my mind was made up. I should just make the move and get my name on that start list. I have done it, I can do it again.