The difference between running and completing a marathon.

I’ve been seeing this a lot in the communities that I’m on for my fundraising:

“I’m not able to run a full [insert number of miles].  How can I run a marathon?  I think I’ll give up.”

For those training for London 2016 we’re all reaching the high mileage point in our training.  The period in which you really are spending your weekends running or recovering from running.

Let’s be clear here: THIS. IS. THE. HARD. PART.

How on earth do you run all those miles?  How in the world do you think you’ll get over through?

First, and most importantly, right now I want you to change your wording.

You are not running x miles – you’re completing x miles.

You are not running a marathon – you’re completing a marathon.

There is a phrase, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.”  Think about it – life has it’s easy parts and it’s hard parts.  It has it’s ups and it’s downs.  Marathons are the exact same way.  You’re going to have good training days and bad ones.  Highs and lows.  You’ll get on the course and the weather could be wonderful or crap.  You could end up stuck behind a million people unable to get your pace on track or with wide spaces and plenty of room to move.

But when you say to yourself, “Today I am completing a marathon,” you give yourself permission to experience the race for what it is.  To allow the good and the bad, to welcome on positive terms.  Because whether you run a marathon, run/walk a marathon, or walk a marathon so long as you cross that finish line you have FINISHED.  You have COMPLETED.  No one will come and take your medal because you didn’t meet some arbitrary time you set for yourself.

And that’s the thing, we’re our own worst critics.  I promise you that years from now someone will look at your medal and say, “Wow!  You finished a marathon?” and not “Huh,  you finished a marathon in 4:23:10.  You must’ve been having a pretty crap day.  What were your split times?  You know I thought you could run faster than this.”

So this weekend when you are out completing your mileage keep that in mind: You are moving forward.  Whether you run it our walk it or both – you will be one more training session closer to your goal.

I promise you can do this.

Honest, I’ve done two and my pace is best described as “sloth.”

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Three Things You Can Do When Training Goes *SPLAT*

I am broken.

In a perfect world this would mean a trip to a person mechanic, £1,000 in parts, and back on the 12 miles in under a week.

Instead it was a trip to the GP where I was told “It’s viral.  Rest and fluids.”

Now those of you who have been following me with abject devotion will know that either in November/December or February/March I really like to get sick.  My specialty is something in the chest – either viral, infection, or what everyone really likes in my workplace: My ability to speak disappearing. [1]

I have half a voice and a really incredible cough at the moment.  Shame these gifts aren’t appreciated in public.  You can check-out in supermarkets really fast, though.

Chances are if you aren’t a devoted fan (and you should be, because I am amazing) you might have stumbled here because you may be under the weather yourself.  As a seasoned running marathon-like person (I have medals, swear!) I can tell you that these things happen.  Training is long, and in many a marathon case it goes through seasons where colds, flu, viruses and dreaded lurgy are common.  One will likely come for you.  But all is not lost.  Here are three things you can do when you’re training has gone splat due to illness [2]:

Resistance Band Exercises.

As I am a slow runner my biggest issue is form.  After about mile 10 I’ve learned that my knees start wandering (seriously, I think they went to Bath once I and was in Edinburgh) and my feet start to move towards ‘penguin waddle.’  I’ve taken on some exercises out of a running magazine which aren’t invasive but work my hips and knees.  You just grab a set of resistance bands, which aren’t expensive nor difficult to store, and walk through the exercises – which take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on where you are in the training.  It’s sort of a little walk around that may mix up your day of daytime television, Netflix, and Kardashian re-runs.  Once you are better and you start your little trots about you’ll notice that those few minutes spent running through the motions with those silly bands pay off.  So grab some bands and Google yourself some moves.  It will help!

Mental Work

The mental aspect of distance running is just as important as the physical.  You go into any race of any length in a bad mood and it’s going to cost you.  You go into any race convinced you can’t do it and I promise you, you’ll live up to that thought.  You’re probably kicking yourself right now because you’re not feeling well.

Stop it.  You’ve come across the best running blog in the universe.  By default this means you must be an incredibly talented person with excellent taste in shoes.

I love this little group who came up with Buddhify and Cards for Mindfulness (I have tweets from the founder to me – sqeee!).  I use both constantly.  Buddhify has meditations on illness, including one that talks about how crummy things like this are temporary and how to work through the negative mindset that comes with illness.  I’ve actually re-purposed these and ones on stress on days where I’m dreading running.

Seek those recommendations out, or search out your own.  But downtime like this is good time to focuse on mental health.  May even make you better faster.

Nutrition

So who amongst you while ill decides you’ll feel better once you eat that leftover ice cream, donuts, and remaining Easter candy from 2012?  No one?

I do.  I eat horribly while ill, and that’s not a good thing.

I think it’s always about comfort.  “I’m sick,” I say to myself, “Poor me.  I need cookie dough.”  And then a few hours later I’m regretting the whole thing.

If you are down, might as well look at your food plan.  I have been trying to get more veggies into my life.  In fact, I’m fascinated with vegan (aka plant based) cook books. I’m a massive Isa Chandra Moskowitz and the very NSFW Thug Kitchen fan.  The stuff you can do with cauliflower! If you need more inspirational/structure the Happy Herbivore will teach you things like how to make potatoes that come pretty close to the Big Mac.

By no means do I expect you to turn into a hippie whilst ill, but there are tons of blogs, mags, and books on better nutrition.  While you are flat on your back healing start reading and trying things out.  Gets your mind off being sick, and you may find some more healthy and diverse food options in your life.

So, there you have it.  Three things you can do when you can’t log those miles.

Now, go feel better.  And nice shoes.

[1] As I am American in a 99% British office I think there is a general appreciation that for a few days a year the people I work with can be spared all the mauling of their language.

[2] Finally, I’m not a doctor.  I’m not a GP.  I’m not a nurse.  I don’t hold a PhD.  These are things I do when I’m feeling ill, but it may not work for you.  If you get sick and want to keep training in some way, shape, or form always check with your doctor.

Also, I’m fundraising for London 2016.  Acts of kindness and generosity are also bound to make you feel better, and will force me away from the cookie dough and into the roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos.  Mmm… roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos.

 

Why you need to visit the National Space Centre

OMG it’s not a running blurg!

As part of my 2016 promise I fully intend to bring you my 22 utterly devoted readers occasional blogs in which I don’t tell you how much (insert part of body here) is hurting because of training for the London Marathon.  In fact, I could even turn this into a fundraising event.  Donate to my campaign and for every £50 I raise until February 29th I will write about things other than running!  So 1 blog of rambling on things like the fact that as a child I didn’t understand why Easter cards had daffodils all over them and then moved to England and was all like, “OOOOOOOOooooohhh,” for every £50 taken in.

I promise you, those blogs will underwhelm like nobody’s business.

This past weekend I went to Leicester, which the English pronounce as “Lester.”  This is an interesting phenomena of England in that, at some point in history, they decided they were too lazy to pronounce all the vowels of a city but kept all the vowels in the written city name.  I’m assuming this is all just some horrible thing they do so that children never learn how to spell.

Any way, I went to Leicester because:

  1. I am a space nut.  I’ve been to Cape Canaveral, Huntsville, and Mission Control.  Plus, I thought Space Camp the Movie was totally real as a small child.
  2. I have been completely converted into a Doctor Who fan.

So, what better thing to do than attend a Doctor Who Convention at the National Space Centre.

It was amazing.

First, because the National Space Centre really thought itself out.  It’s literally packed with interesting information, exhibits, and in the case of having an almost-four-year-old son: BUTTONS.

Lots and lots and lots of buttons to push and you don’t get in trouble.

My thought is they looked to buttons as a gateway drug.  First, you go to the National Space Centre and get to push all these flashing buttons.  Then, you start learning about why you are pushing those buttons.  Pretty soon you’re at MIT securing your double PhD in aerospace engineering and biomedical sciences and applying for the astronaut programme at NASA… it’s a vicious cycle I tell you.

Buttons aside they have floors and floors interesting information coupled with simulations and models and all sorts.  If I wasn’t so busy admiring the suits of the (reformed to non-assimilation) 15th Cyber Legion I could have spent all day driving around their model Mars Rover.

In terms of “Cons” this Doctor Who event was my second overall, and by far the crowd was way more dedicated to the Cosplay.  Every Doctor imaginable in male and female form was wandering the place and taking to task their sonic screwdriver on model planets and singing Daleks.

Yes, Daleks (well, the reformed ones on planet Earth) sing.

Specifically, they sing Bohemian Rhapsody.

Now while the link above goes to another event I’m fairly sure a few of those Daleks were present at the National Space Centre.  Between the buttons, exhibits, and the one table in the cafe that had a big “DO NOT PRESS” button on it (which, if you pressed, resulted in a rocket “taking off” in the middle of said cafe) you can get quite overwhelmed with things to do.  But at the end of the day, right before we were set to go the Daleks slid gracefully into the lobby and sang Bohemian Rhapsody as a farewell to the crowds.

It was magic.  So long as if you consider magic Daleks gleefully singing about exterminating people.  But magic nonetheless.

So, go to the National Space Centre (the ticket currently gives you free admission for almost every day the rest of the year) and… if you can… go during their Doctor Who convention at least once.  It’s worth it for that slim chance that you may hear the grating song of Daleks floating above the rocket ships and capsules into the bright sky above.