Some of you have met our International member, Naomi Fenne, at Saturday morning HiiT & Run. Naomi divides her time between Madrid, where she works as a teacher, and at home in Woking, Surrey. She is targeting her first marathon on November 19th in Valencia. We have been fortunate to be part of Naomi’s marathon journey and she would like to share some of her thoughts with you….
I am training for my first marathon now beginning week 7, and at the halfway point of my journey here are some thoughts.
If running a marathon was easy, everyone would do it, and therefore have no real basis for admiration, applause or accomplishment. Training for such a distance is broken down into small challenges that can feel like triumphs on one day, then setbacks on another.
On a Monday I could run with the wind fully in my sails, my breathing even and steady feeling like I could run forever, then Tuesday feel like my legs are made of cement and I have a two ton metal ball and chain around both ankles.
With such ups and downs during my first 7 weeks, I have recognized my own game plan within the plan. When I eat well, I perform better. When I make the most of my rest days, I perform better.
7 weeks ago my training began during the hottest month of the year, and living in Spain means the heat is inescapable, so it’s either get up before 6am, or run in air that could quite easily be a very hot bath that never goes cold. Given I haven’t seen pre 6am since I worked night shifts, it was the inferno like conditions that taught me about the need for hydration. I found I could barely run for 15 minutes before I started hanging my tongue out like a panting Labrador, and once I stop once, it is like the floodgates are opened and I cannot stop needing to drink. The hour run turned into a desperate dash to each water fountain I passed and if there wasn’t one every 10 minutes, I would frantically look around for one and mutter something about Madrid Council being useless.
I did have a few weeks of relief after heading back to the UK, and even managed to beat my 5K time on the Worthing Park Run. I was the most exhausted I’ve been directly after a race, but the sense of satisfaction cannot be beaten. All the speed training and tempo runs were certainly paying off and the realization that the hard work was making a difference was the best reinforcement I could have at that time.
I receive an email weekly which contains my instructions for the following week, and encouraging words to cheer me along the way. The targets I am given are specifically tailored to my capability, and worked out so that I can achieve my potential and even be pushed slightly beyond it.
I have developed a ‘just get it done’ attitude for the difficult mid week days, the days where after a long day teaching all I feel like doing is nothing much. On those days I remember I have never in my life regretted a run, except the one’s I missed. Having the accountability of someone who believes in me and is working with me to reach that start line is a huge motivation.
I have enjoyed a somewhat slower, more restful week that my plan kindly allowed, and I am ready for the more rigorous, intense weeks that I know are to come. This Sunday the plan is to run 14 miles – officially my longest ever distance all at once.
So halfway through, although the start line is what I’m looking forward to, the journey to get there is the most rewarding part so far.