Confession time: I am out of self-inflicted retirement again and marathon training is mission-creeping my life. I spot my tell-tale anorak behaviours and the snarkiness which always accompanies the pyramid schedule of long distance runs.
If you zoned out on reading the word ‘marathon’ I don’t blame you. I am even boring myself. I promised last year that running London again would finally quench my desire to run beyond 20 miles. Like child birth though, running has a habit of allowing you to forget former contractions and gaze broodingly at lycra and hi-viz jackets with no thought about impending stretch marks.
As the mileage creeps up, I start remembering how running takes over and how many hours a tortoise like me will need to train if I am to break through the wall that awaits. The challenge is to fit all the usual people I love into my life without cutting into the large swathes of running time that I have ring-fenced on my kitchen calendar (I’m old school).
I justify my hours of plodding by focusing on the endomorphins, but then realise that I am often snappy and brittle with those I love after a run; I doubt they will buy into my argument that running serves as nature’s Prozac. To prevent these attacks of snarkiness I begin hoarding ‘running food’ like a squirrel prepares for hibernation. The irony that I am trying to prevent hibernation is totally lost on me.
There is nothing in this hoard of snacks that is technically just for runners, it is just food I feel I deserve if I have ticked off another 16+ miles (there I go, boring you to death). And, if I find my runner’s stash has been raided mid-week, my endomorphins disappear very quickly. ‘What do you mean you ate my dark chocolate rice cakes because they went nicely with your cup of tea? You honestly ate all those Naked bars? Really? I felt sure I labelled them and put them on my ‘Runner’s (singular) Shelf’.
I start wondering which is worse – to sneak off for an afternoon nap after a long run or to soldier on and pretend I am feeling sociable. I guess the dream would be to pair up with another long distance runner, but then we would bore for England as we compared mileage and split times, and would probably fight to the death over the contents of the Runners’ (plural!) stash.
I am distracted by thinking about new running routes now that the distance is increasing. I start following a ridiculous number of running sites on Facebook and Instagram. This eats into my ‘spare’ time even more. Tired of coming up with loops of ever increasing circles to get my mileage up, I read with interest that I can mix it up by doing a crossroads run – running in four directions out and back to a central starting point. Game changer. Then I remember that I live on the sea front and may need to adapt the cross-roads to a T junction if I don’t want to reinact the ‘Posiedon Adventure’. Lots to think about.’
Another site (www.RacetheDistance – and believe me, I intend to) gives me a useful meme to decide what my running name should be for this next marathon, using the first letter of my first and last name. I am not convinced. ‘Spandex Speedypants’ may lift spectator endomorphins but may not do the trick for me.
My most pressing concern is my moral dilemma about whether to invest in Nike’s new Vaporfly. If I believe the adverts, I could bounce along as if I am ‘running on a trampoline’ but I would also like to sneak under 4 hours under my own sweat and tears and without having to cash in my pension to purchase these game changers. It is something to ponder during those long training hours. I am prepared to be persuaded but only if someone funds the investment/retirement plan.
In the meantime my trusty Hokka Cliftons are pretty bouncy. They seem to adapt to my snarkiness and they never let me down. I might just get that added support by switching my running moniker to ‘Spandex Wobblebum’ to get more of a lift from the crowd at Newport, but then I would have to marry again to change my surname. More moral dilemmas but at least it will be something to discuss with my training partners, Ten K Twinkeltoes and Gluteus Bouncyboobs – after all, we have many hours ahead to fill.