Training. Marathon training to be exact. It’s long, hard and at times lonely when you’re friends don’t run. This isn’t a personal attack, but more of an insight into living with a marathon runner.
To say I NEVER thought I’d still be running almost three years after I decided I wanted to train run a half and full marathon is nothing short of an understatement. The plan was to train, run both … then get on with the rest of my life. I was a sprinter, so even running 200m was a long ting. Why do I want to run twice the distance I was happy with? No, that’s long.
It has been increasingly difficult to negotiate social circles as a result of my continued interest as I’ve become increasingly serious about lacing up my shoes and taking a couple of hours away from everything. It is no longer “just a hobby”, instead taking up a huge part of my life. I run every Sunday, sometimes I run two/three times a week. My Saturday nights are usually spent at home chilling and drinking water for the following morning long run instead of in a bar somewhere. I tried the “drinking the night before and waking up still drunk or hungover” thing and running 15 miles and I did it. Numerous times. Yes, I can do it, but if I want to improve, it’s not advisable. Sweating out the alcohol is cool, drinking double the amount of water you need the morning after to rehydrate to replace the fluids lost from drinking alcohol and have enough to run with when you’re as small as I am isn’t cool at all. And I don’t actually enjoy that all now if I’m honest. Waking up and chanting/meditating with a clear head before I start my day is something I love.
I’ve missed birthdays and other celebrations, or attended for a short time to be met with disdain when I leave early. So I’ve just stopped going. And that’s been difficult. I do like spending time with friends and celebrating with them, I don’t see many people outside my running circles that often, but training for a race that you’re basically running non stop for four hours is life consuming. Especially if you want to do it properly.
A long run on a Sunday is where most of us get the “proper” mileage in and that takes planning: routes that aren’t boring, accounting for tube closures or events if you’re running in central London, something scenic as you run (I mean if you’re running twenty miles, running half of that along stinky dual carriageways aren’t exactly helping the situation, you dig?) Working out all the various gels and drinks to take out with you, do you run with an extra layer around your waist so when you finish you’re warm. Comparing your split times to see whether you’re times are improving week on week.
Even down to trying to get home and cramming things into Sunday evenings when for fear of “not doing much over the weekend” and this is repeated for six months prior with the serious training being at least three months before a race.
It is tough, but it’s something we want to do despite our groaning about it otherwise we wouldn’t do it. This isn’t a justification of missing out, but an explanation that training for these things aren’t as simple as most think. As I’m in the last weeks of training before an important race, my focus as further intensified and it will do so until the start line in San Francisco. I can’t wait until I have two months off to see those I’ve not been able to during training. But I know I will also miss training by the time it’s the second week into that time off, and as soon as January hits I will be back on pounding the pavement again in preparation for London marathon.
It can be hard being the friend, partner or relative of a runner, and we apologise for that. While we don’t expect you to share our abundant enthusiasm for all of the above, we thank you for your patience and once we cross that finish line, we’re all yours. Until the next race. Better still, start running with us.