Heading up to 4 years since my first marathon on the challenge! It's been a testing 3 months in my world. I've completed 2 more races; Cyprus and Slovakia and a few weeks away from my 3rd marathon in 8 weeks over in Latvia.
I've had two colds, tonsilitis, tendonitis and a really scary flight. It's been the hardest section of the challenge so far, trying to get enough sleep with a small noisy baby to train and an increase in responsibility at work. But pleased to say that so far I'm just about holding it all together and with just 7 races left I'm starting to think more about what to do when I'm done.
6 months old!
Cyprus Marathon (no.20)
One day I'll win a race for real, maybe.
In the end I got it done, full report here
Geordie Mark, great guy and impressive mara list for one so young.
ME in Slovakia
Michal from Bratislava
Bratislava Marathon (no.21)
Tough but an improvement on Cyprus.
Always there with a beer at the end, top friend.
My first real run-in with Brexit occured in February when I was ordered to surrender my website as it ends with '.eu'. Hopefully I've figured out a way around it without losing the domain. I guess it's a sign of things to come as we get closer to leaving. I have definitely noticed that it's been harder to get publicity through the marathon races and papers this last year or so. I can't help but feel that as I'm from the UK, there's a bit of anymosity there, I can't really blame them. The arrogance of how the UK government has treated the process would have me struggling to respect anyone wanting a favour too. When I interact with new people in Europe I can definitely feel an uneasiness coming from them when they realise I'm British. I'm certainly glad to have run so many races before the Brexit debacle that's for sure.
As I type I'm currently unable to run through injury. It's fair to say I've led a bit of a charmed life when it comes to injury, I've not been able to run maybe 3 or 4 times in 4 and a bit years so I can't complain too much. But two races in a 6 week period with another one around the corner is taking it's toll. I've got problems with both calves again, hopefully I can sort with another massage as I can't get beyond a mile without the pain stopping me from continuing. On top of that I've got a groin strain and lower back which is uncomfortable rather than run preventing.
I'm keen to talk about mental health for the first time on this challenge. A lot of people have asked me if I'm feeling mentally fatigued with the challenge. I guess this is because I've been posting a bit less on social media (mainly down to time limitations with work and baby) and also I'm guessing they're wondering how I stay motivated after all this time. The truth is that I'm not fatigued, I think at the moment I'm just a bit down on how some of the races have gone and the lack of improvement I've been showing. Outside of being an elite runner I think it's chemically impossible not to feel happy about finishing a marathon. But for 18 out of 21 races I've come away with regret as to how I've run even though I know I've trained pretty well.
I'm relatively happy with some of the press/media awareness I've managed to get for M.E and everyone I've met in each country has been fantastic. I have to still be pushing to hit a time in a race or I struggle to get motivated to train. Everything so far has been to consistently get finished in under 4 hours but I've found this increasingly tough since 2017. I'm not sure I can put it down to age, I routinely get passed by runners 20 years older than me. It must be the training schedule for the most part but I think also the mental strength required.
I feel like I've lost the ability to run through pain, fatigue and dig deep. I don't know why. I'm still determined and dedicated but something has changed. Could be that it isn't life or death for me anymore, I've got parental responsibilities and maybe I have more perspective. Or it could be that I'm just not as mentally strong. I think marathon races are a dangerous hobby for people like me. When a 4 hour pacer passes you with a few miles to go you feel like giving up and walking off the course. The feeling of failure and 'wasted' effort of training is a real killer both in the race and on the plane home. Running is good for mental health if you can reconcile some reasonable expectations with yourself. If you think too much about what you 'ought' to be capable of I can't think of a more destructive hobby for you to take part in.
I need to re-wire my brain and reset some parameters. On the start line of a race I often feel like a striker too afraid to miss a penalty than being excited at the opportunity to score. I think I've become so self-critical of my training and race running that I'm in a difficult mental cycle to break. The only thing that seems to help is meeting people in each country before the race and reading messages from supporters, it reminds me that it's not about times (I'm the only one who will be bothered), it's about trying to help people.
Well done to all of those who have completed marathons over the last few weeks for Invest In ME including my buddy Ben Scott, Jimmy Alexander and Steve Martin.
Thanks once again for sticking with me. I'm looking forward to taking part in Millions Missing in Bristol next weekend and trying to do you all proud in Riga on the 19th.
If you'd like to sponsor me you can do below!
Total Sponsorship Raised: £16272
Social Media Followers: 2324
Miles Covered: 254
Average Temp: 12C
Lessons Learned: Completing marathons are still impressive.