So Triathlon fever has subsided and its back to the grindstone of marathon training, I thoroughly enjoyed the training mix with tri, splitting time in the pool, on the bike and out on the roads. But one of the questions that lingered throughout the 12 weeks was whether I was a triathlete or a runner?
The day after TRiAthy, I immediately changed my garmin back to measuring in miles. Many marathon runners like to run the distance as 42km (26.2miles) but for me, the distance is as classic as the race itself from the quaint story about the Queen tagging on a few hundred yards to the finish so she could watch from her balcony to the fact that it is stubbornly held on to its statute measurements for so long.
Despite having run two marathons, I’m still to get that ‘runners high’ so many speak of getting when they cross the finish line – I know now that I was injured for most of my days training for both races, but the emotion of Dublin 2012 after Operation Transformation and the fantastic crowds only lead me to tears of ‘thank fuck thats over’ ~ thanks to Carol being the closest shoulder for me to rest on at the time!
If anyone asks me are marathons fun my answer is invariably ‘no’. My 2014 plan has me running 7 separate 20mile training runs, thats 7 runs, taking over 3hrs, that I have to fit in around family, work and general life, it is most likely 7 days of pulling on the runners at 7am on a Saturday or Sunday and heading out into the day with MAMILS, other runners and walk of shamers being the only company around; and thats just the 20 miler runs, I’ve several 17, 18 and 19 milers as well.
Half marathons are more fun, without a doubt. The race is generally done in less than 2hrs as are all the training runs, thats much more sensible. If you want to start running and are looking for a distance to work towards, pick a half. Then when you’ve done one or two of those you can decide if you want to go for a full.
‘Why do you run marathons then if they’re so crap?’ is the next question. ‘Because I can’. Its there, it is a supreme challenge of physical ability and so few people have completed one you really are part of a selective group. They might be crap, I mightn’t have enjoyed them, but I’m proud to have completed not just one, but I’m a multiple marathoner, and I’m incredibly proud of the fact that I’m heading into my third.
I run them because they are there. I’m a firm believer in pushing ourselves beyond what we consider to be our easy point. This blog is called ‘Outside the comfort zone’, a phrase I got from Gerry Duffy, someone I admire and learn from every time I hear him speak or read his blogs and tweets. We cannot get better unless we move beyond our comfort zone. Thats why I took on an Olympic Triathlon, thats why I’m taking on another marathon.
Don’t get me wrong, its not all crap! Running can throw a blanket of calm over why might have been a really bad day at work, you get to think of things you never normally get an opportunity to consider. You make and complete ‘To-Do’ lists. You write virtual cards to friends you haven’t seen or spoken to in weeks, you have an opportunity to leave life behind and be at one with yourself and your surroundings. Leaving the obvious health benefits aside, running is incredibly good for you and your mind. Sometimes its just nice to be alone and with running, its just you and the elements. Nothing beats that feeling.
This time around, I should be stronger, lighter and better trained. I’ve spoken about coming out of injury stronger than I went into it and I think I’ve achieved it – I’m already a couple of weeks into a new plan and with 600miles to go to the race I don’t think I’ll have been better prepared as I will be for Dublin 2014.
Thats the plan, I have no doubt there’ll be bumps along the way but with a sensible head and comfortable shoes I’ll line up in Merrion Square on the October bank holiday and do it all again, maybe I might see you there?
I’ll tell you then whether I prefer marathons or triathlons…