Nought To Marathon: The First Hurdle

We're running Paris Marathon to prove that you can go from nothing to marathon runner in less than 5 months. Today, I'm talking all about the very first hurdle: actually committing to run the race.

When Lucy first asked me to run Paris Marathon with her, I initially said no. "Next year," I said. I have always intended to run a marathon, but I kept putting it off in my head, or putting it off by another year; I'm a trekker, I'd tell myself. Not a runner.

Don't get me wrong: having been out as staff support for our teams in Paris 2015, and Amsterdam 2016 & 2017, I've witnessed the drama and the magic of marathon day, and the memories being made that will stay with our runners for the rest of their lives. It captivated and inspired me, but had never yet pushed me over the threshold into actually running.

But I realised that I'd say "Next year" forever. If I was ever going to actually run my 42.2km, then at some point that "I'll do it tomorrow" mindset had to transition into "let's do it." And so it was. Lucy and I signed up to Paris that week.

The next problem was this: where to start?

Mercifully, being in a job that takes out thousands of students on challenges means that I had at my disposal a huge wealth of knowledge on running. We have heaps of plans, tips and articles over in the Training Hub which any beginner can pick up and start using to turn them to a comfortable and competent runner. To be honest, I was going to need all the help I could get. So I spent some time poring over our resources and sought, apprehensively, to get started.

For my plan, I picked a running app to get me going, and to help me learn some more about myself and how I run (my app of choice is the Nike+ Running Club). I'm now four weeks into a bespoke running plan with the app, having done 7 surprisingly easy runs so far - all of varying distances between 1.5km and 3.5km, and so far I don't hate it. It's hard to get into a rhythm of running 3/4 times per week (and it's harder to get back into that rhythm if you miss a few, as I've already learned), but it's also surprisingly rewarding. And it isn't as hard as I imagined to actually do the running.

There's still 18 weeks to go until the marathon, meaning there's plenty of time to make mistakes, learn and try different methods. I'm not a good runner, I know that. I wasn't going to become one in 3 weeks. But I'm running now, and that's a start.

For me, and for many others I'm sure, I was never going to be able to "just start running". That isn't how my brain processes projects or challenges like that. I have to sign up first, and then my mind will accept that: you're running this marathon now, so it's run or die. That's what convinces me to get out of the house and do the runs that my training plan has lined up for me each day.

And that's the first hurdle: committing. Accepting that you can be a runner. You don't have to be a good runner (and certainly not from the start). You don't even have to be good at running.

You just have to be good at convincing yourself to go for a run. If you can do that then it doesn't matter how far you've got to run, because once you're out the door, you are already halfway there.