At the end of the London marathon, as I struggled to put my Birkenstocks on over my blistered feet, I, of course, got chatting to another runner, who turned out to be chairman of the 100 marathon club. He was in his 60s, had just run a 3 hour 30 minute something marathon, completed London 36 times and has run over 700 marathons. When I said that that was my 20th marathon aged 29, he told me to let him know when I get to 100 and that he looked forward to me joining the club.
But in the week or so since meeting him, I’ve thought a lot about marathon running, and what it actually is that I like about it. And I don’t really want to join the 100 marathon club. Since April 2018, I’ve run 9 marathons, and a 50 mile ultra marathon, and whilst I hit my goal of running 26.2 miles 20 times, it’s not given me the sense of joy that I’ve always associated with marathon running. I’ve realised that, for me, marathon running is about training to get fitter and faster.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog about PB chasing, and even 4 years later, when, things have taken off a bit in my career and in my life away from running, chasing down goals and running the fastest I can, is still so important to me. The marathons I’ve run over the past 12 months were still very hard – harder, perhaps, than some of the times that I have run in the past for a PB. Maybe I should have trained harder or differently and the reason I didn’t get the joy I wanted because I just wasn’t there physically either? But whether or not that’s the case, I know that part of it was that I didn’t get to get into that zone of getting comfortably uncomfortable during a race, I didn’t get that feeling of glancing down at my watch at 20 miles and knowing I was going to have to now grit my teeth or it was never going to happen and I didn’t get that feeling at 25 miles of knowing that I was going achieve what I had spent 18 weeks working for.
What’s so great about running is that everyone’s motivations are different, and your own motivations can change over time; they can change from race to race. Of course I know that my goals and dreams will be different every year when it comes to running, but I also know that it’s unlikely that that driver I have inside me to train for times will ever disappear and I need to honour that to keep the spark alive.
So what’s next? I’m going to retire from marathon running for the time being. I feel like a tipped myself over the edge a little this year, and need a break from long distances. I’m excited to watch Brighton, Boston, London, the Moyleman next year, to bring my A cheer game and enjoy the other side of the atmosphere. I want to run a 1.29 half marathon this year or next, and then a 3.14.59 marathon in 2021, hopefully at Brighton, 10 years after I ran my first marathon and passed out. I’ll miss training, but my God will I be excited to come back to it at the end of next year.
I’m really pleased I’ve made it to 20 marathons, it’s a fun thing to have done. But I know now I’m in no rush to reach 25, let alone 100.
that’s not to say I will never run for fun. of course I will, and most of the time, because running for fun is AWESOME.