Last time out I went through a few of the ‘challenges’ that training for a marathon entails. And as I quite like moaning on about running, I’ve decided to throw in a few more. But before we get to those, I feel it necessary to expand further on the ‘pain’ category and go into detailed specifics regarding THE CHAFFING. I alluded to the fact that the ol’ undercarriage takes a hammering in this department (fear not, this is not where the ‘detailed specifics‘ come in), but I’ve had further rubbage in a fine selection of other places. Nipples, naturally. That really should be a slogan for something…although I dread to think what. The nips also take a hammering unless precautions are taken. The lower back: that’s had a chaffing. The inside of the thigh: that’s had a chaffing. Hips: they’ve had a chaffing. Armpit: you better believe that’s had a chaffing. For any fans of The Simpsons, read back the last 4 in the guise of Jasper in the infamous ‘that’s a paddlin’’ episode. Just for fun.
But, pain, time, boredom, route complexity and expense aside, what else is there not to love about marathon training? Well…
- Funny feelings. I’d like to have summed this up with more eloquent phrasing, but I think ‘funny feelings’ does quite a good job of providing an umbrella term for the things I’m going to list. Because when I started putting in the long miles, things happened to my body that hadn’t happened before. Such as:
a) An audible (at least, internally audible), rhythmic pounding of the stomach like someone bouncing a basketball on the pavement. Hunger? Trapped wind? Alien contact? I’m usually too tired to care.
b) Whilst training for the first marathon, by about mile 15 it began to feel like my heels were connected directly to my buttocks with two pieces of elastic.
c) Hysteria. This comes in many forms, but my favourite is ‘the hypothetical problem’. On a recent long run I avoided a large lorry that was backing out of a work yard. It wasn’t a narrow miss or anything, but the inner monologue started fretting about the possibility of having annoyed or startled the driver by suddenly appearing in his rear-view mirror. As a result, I formulated an apologetic speech and envisaged a scenario where we shook hands and moved on. I found myself actually making the motion of shaking hands with an imaginary, hypothetically irritated lorry driver as I ran.
- Mother nature. We can all take a bit of rain and sun. 10k in the pissing wet or the burning heat? Pfft, no problem. Character building, is that. But three gruelling, constant hours in it? Gah. In truth, I’m not too fussed about the rain although I’m not a fan of the mild hypothermia that starts to kick in. Being fair-haired and fair-skinned it’s THE SUN that’s my downfall. And not in a Jeremy Clarkson and tits-on-page-3 type way*. I don’t tan, I merely go through the four stage ‘white-red-peel-white’ process. And I burn so spectacularly that strangers have been known to come up to me and say ‘bye, you look red’. I was once buying a bottle of beer in a One Stop when the middle-aged woman behind the counter put a finger on my forehead ‘to see how much heat I was giving off’. I didn’t know how to react. Beyond enjoying the momentary cooling relief of her index finger. ‘But’, I hear you utter, ‘you can prepare for such eventualities, surely’. The sun I mean, not an unfamiliar woman’s index finger to the forehead. And you’d be right. However, I’m the sweatiest runner of all time with a comically oversized head. This makes wearing a hat an issue. And as for suncream, I’m yet to encounter one that doesn’t run and/or go white in the sweaty deluge.
- The hunger. Now, some people chalk this down as a positive and I can see why – if you’re doing ALL THE RUNNING you can eat ALL THE FOOD without putting on ALL THE WEIGHT. However, I do tend to end up getting so hungry its ridiculous. I am a fan of food. For many years my favourite pass-times involved eating cheese and sitting down. But when you keep waking up at 4am absolutely ravenous, despite having put away enough food at supper time to sustain an elephant, it gets a little wearing. I should perhaps explain that ‘supper time’ where I am from is last thing before bad. I know in some areas of the country, ‘supper’ or ‘dinner’ can be used to refer to the evening meal. Both are of course wrong. That is tea-time…
- Urgh, not more running! I definitely reached a point when training for my first marathon where my spirit was effectively broken by the sheer amount of running I was doing. Even contemplating putting on the trainers caused me physical pain. This led to me having a complete two week ‘hiatus’ from the training plan at the point where I should have been doing the exact opposite of ‘having a hiatus’. A continuatus? That’ll do. This time round, I’ve managed to avoid this. So far. Touch wood. Well, wood-like desk surface.
- Everyone thinks I’m going to die. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But only a bit. I’ve seen the look on people’s faces when they ask ‘how far is a marathon again?’ and I say ’26.2 miles’. It’s that look that people reserve for when someone’s telling them about their plans to convert to Satanism. And is usually accompanied by a muttered expletive. The follow up comment will usually be well meaning – ‘good luck’…’take it steady’…’be careful’ but we both know it means ‘try not to die’. I’ll confess that I don’t always fill out the personal/medical information on the back of my race number, but I sure as hell do for the marathon. Alongside the words DO RESUSCITATE in block capitals…
***************SHAMELESS ATTEMPT TO EXTRACT YOUR CASH******************
Over the course of 6 weeks from September 6th to October 11th I’m running the Middlesbrough 10k, the Great North Run, the Scottish Half Marathon, The Redcar Half Marathon and the Yorkshire Marathon in order to raise funds for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. If you would like to sponsor me – and I’d love it if you did – you can do so via this link. I promise you’ll get a mention if you do!
* – Not, I repeat, not Jeremy Clarkson’s tits on page 3.