When ticking a box just isn’t good enough.

A week to go before the first instalment of this years Marathon Challenge begins. What have I learned about this running malarkey and myself this week?

First up, let me acknowledge the good thing. I “ran” another 13.1 miles today and I even conquered the, officially titled, Radford Rd incline for the first time. It’s a hill. End of.


Now, the other stuff.
Running this kind of distance isn’t easy. Not that I thought it would be, but I certainly thought that it would become easier. It hasn’t.

I still don’t like running. I vary my runs and routes, until I started trekking the course for the Cov Half next Sunday, but I am bored to tears. I actually cried again today. Twice. More of that later. Apart from last year’s Skydive, I haven’t ever been so emotional. I don’t like that part, either.

I am finding it bloody hard to have a “normal” conversation after 13.1 miles. I’m forgetful. I struggle to remember words. I don’t even remember my pin number. Is this even normal? On the plus side, it means I’m not able to spend. Hubby, at least, will be happy with this aspect.

I’ll be honest, I’m now starting to worry about the 26.2 in October. What on earth will happen to my brain after that run? What will I be like at work the day after? Why are all these running things on a Sunday?

Brain Mush

Today was interesting in some respects. I noticed just how slow I am during the first 5 miles or so. Not entirely sure why this is. I thought I started better today (after the compulsory row with myself to sort my breathing out 0.5 miles in) and I ran for longer before I stopped for a little drink.

I felt physically more capable in the second phase of this half marathon than I did the first. This may be due to a new hydration approach. The very brilliant Andrew Jacobs tweeted me this morning with his tip that Lucozade works for him. I had planned to take ISO Gels with me. Food for thought which I took up when I ran out of water and cashed in my emergency tenner 4 miles in for a bottle of pink lemonade Lucozade. It’s proper lush and not like Lucozade at all. Bonus!

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I was wary approaching the home loop. Over the last 2 weeks, I have needed to detour for an unexpected bathroom visit. I had pondered, during the week, what would happen if I wasn’t near home. I read on Twitter, via @UKRunChat, when someone asked what to do if an “emergency” arose that the best thing is to find trees / fields / woods and go. The tip was to pack baby-wipes in your pouch, just in case. My second shop stop was to Boots. For baby-wipes. I wouldn’t call myself a lady, in the traditional sense, but I have experienced nothing more humiliating than what I had to do today. I found the woods and I cried. With embarrassment, with frustration and with humour.

Anyway, on I went. My new nemesis, another bloody hill, at 6.5 miles, I walked up that and was feeling pretty low. I thought I physically hurt; I could feel something in the ball of my left foot but, in all reality, it was my mind being a shithead. My left ball does hurt though. Proper sore. Should I be wearing padded socks over this distance?

Supping my new friend, Lucozade, I was cracking on through Hawkes End when Apple kindly chose this point to tell me that someone had accessed my itunes account and passwords & stuff needed changing. FFS. I walked through the village whilst attempting to remember my security questions. Apparently, according to Apple, I don’t know where I got married (no longer a question BTW).

All sorted, I know I’m now behind, I check my watch. It was on pause. ARRRGHHGHGHGHGHGH. Mother of all F**kpigs. How? When? Pah. Meh. And many others. I wasn’t happy.

I thought about heading home. Calling it a day. I looked down and remembered why I’m doing this.

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I don’t need to do this running thing. Normally, when you experience stuff you don’t like, do you just stop or try to avoid it?

Typically, I would consider that approach. Don’t get me wrong, I like to stretch myself and learn new stuff but, in reality, if I don’t need to do it and, after digging around for info to support yay or nay, if I don’t see the point, I’ll just bin it off.

For example:

I detest Marmite. I don’t eat it. The smell makes me gip. Hubby loves it. I appreciate the flavour profile so I do cook with it. Occasionally.

I am massively scared of flying. And heights. But I need to experience other countries, appreciate different cultures, learn from people who are not the same as me, expand my thinking, help others. So I find a way of dealing with it and travel lots.

I was scared of working outside of an industry where I’ve been awesome, mostly, for 20+ years. I now work in the sector that I feared the most.

I found it really difficult to share personal stuff, to open up, be me. Through this blog, along with the encouragement and support of so many brilliant people, I am less the closed “ice-queen” I once was and I will give all of me to anyone, immediately. I recognise how helpful my story / experiences / thoughts can be for others.

Running these Marathon Challenges do not and will not fall in to the category of “need”. I don’t need to do it. I want to. I committed to a Marathon Challenge in 2017 to help raise awareness for 3 amazing charities, Team Margot,  Retrak and Anthony Nolan. All very close to my heart. I will not be defeated. I may, occasionally, have defeatist thoughts but I will never quit. As long as I have breath in my body.

Throughout my run, I recognised that when I am looking at the ground, as opposed to focusing on the horizon, my goal, I experience more self-doubt, more negative thoughts, with the regular visitors for today:
hahaha, and you thought you could do this after a bottle of wine last night? Joker”
“How shit are you? You can’t even run consistently, your splits are all over the shop.”
“WTF are you doing now?”
“Hellloooooo, breathing would be good”

and, my personal fave…
“those tingles in your left arm, yes those – isn’t that an indication that you’re about to have a heart attack?”

Hilarious. Not.

Add that to 3 shop stops (for Lucozade x 2 and baby-wipes), 2 cries, one of which accompanied a less than ladylike visit to the woods, plus app central / Garmin watch being absolute cockwombles, today will go down as a tick box for distance, very little else was achieved.

I had a little cry at the end (it’s cool to cry); “get it out, suck it up and crack on woman” I chastised myself. I’m my own worst enemy on that front. But it helped.

I’m now sat here, aching like a good ‘un, planning how I can overcome today’s obstacles next Sunday and thinking about how I can encourage people to sign up to become a potential stem cell donor. That’s what my first half marathon is all about. This little girl. Margot. You can read Margot’s story here

margot 4

You are unique. You have the potential to save a life. How can you support me? Sign up to become a stem cell donor today. All you need to do is click here if you’re UK based or here if you’re outside the UK.


Thank you X

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Widow, Cats, Family, People Stuff, Exec Coach, Food Nerd, Gin Queen.

8 thoughts on “When ticking a box just isn’t good enough.

  1. Great post and a few points! 1. on runs longer than 10 miles, imodium is my firend – I take it before I head out and this is a partic common issue for women 2. I love and I hate running – the best parts are what I’ve learned about myself re: resilience, and I’ve met some really amazing folks who I would never had met otherwise and 3. fab for mental health – I’ve cried, I’ve sworn loudly, I’ve been a little rude to folks – and you know what? I’m much stronger for it.

    You have ages to go till your mara and you’ll be fab. Yep, there will be days it does suck, but running is a lot like life if any one mile – it sucks, it’s brilliant, and it just is.

    And as for mind going blank – this is normal. Best advice I got was to write idiot proof instructions to self and put at top of the bag in the bag drop. It works!

    I wish you well with it!

    1. Thank you so much, Sophie. Your tips and assurance have really helped. I have three halfs before the biggy in October so, fingers crossed, I’ll have all of my ‘monkeys’ sorted by then.

  2. Donna, you never cease to amaze me!
    I smile, laugh and admire every blog you write – you are such an inspiration.
    I love that you never give up and to think that 12 months ago you only ran to the off-licence 🙂
    Just kidding, as you know the last 6 weeks have been a battle for myself and reading your blogs have helped me get up and start walking (4 miles yesterday) to get fit and back to work again.
    Your honesty is so humbling. Love you Mrs ❤️

    1. Haha, I wouldn’t have even ran to the offy! Love you more ❤

      I may well run to yours after I’ve conquered the Cov half. Not the same day, obvs, I’m not a complete nutter 🙌🏻😘

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