So after two weeks of a stinking cold and far too much booze and mince pies, the serious business of marathon training begins. From now until 28th May 2017 I will be training to run my first marathon. Just to make sure I don’t shirk my training or back out at any point I am running this marathon as part of a brand new module at Bangor University called ‘Born to Run: achieve your goals’. During this module Prof John Parkinson and I will teach theories of positive and motivational psychology to 20 year three Psychology students. These theories will be applied to distance running in a series of workshops and ‘practical sessions’! Yep we will all be running together once a week and then completing additional training in our own time.
As we build our distance, strengthen our muscles and improve our performance we will also be developing skills of resilience, determination and positivity. The characteristics required by, and developed in, marathon runners are the same qualities which can be applied to success and goal achievement in all areas of life, including employment. We aim to develop 20 individuals who, at present, are ‘non-runners’ (run less than 5k regularly) and give them an awesome experience which will stay with them for life. Each of the students will be writing and publishing a blog every week documenting their progress and applying the theories they have learnt to the running practice they undertake. I will be linking to these posts and collating interesting elements from them in my own weekly journal, or blog…or ‘jog’!
My running history is relatively brief but worth sharing. I am 38 years old (a squeek away from 39!) and began running in late 2013. I have never been a runner and actively avoided all running at school and from then on. I was, however, a very keen and competent swimmer and have also thoroughly enjoyed rock-climbing during my time in North Wales. After three kids and with a busy job I decided the time had finally come to get back in shape, but I needed something cheap, flexible and regular as an activity. I can’t commit to always being free at 7pm for Zumba, or being able to attend a gym enough times a week to make a membership worth while but being able to stick on my trainers and go out of the door when there’s a free half an hour seemed to work for me.
I started off slow – really slow, by running 2k along the sea front to the next village and then walk-running back. I build up gradually to being able to run about 5k which i did a two to three times a week. My activity came and went and there were long periods when I did nothing at all. Summer, Christmas, visitors, too much work were all excellent excuses not to go running. I watched the Twin piers 10k race take place in Jan 2014 and thought that I would like to have a go at that. I hurt my knees at some point that year so had to have some physio and strengthen up some muscles that clearly both I and my body had forgotten existed. Later in the year I was able to run a bit more and started also going to the athletics track once a week to do brutal speed training work. Seriously hated that, but it stood me in good stead and I ran the twin piers in Jan 2015 in 58 minutes. Later that year I ran a 5 mile road race and a 10k trail for race for life but managed to damage my achilles in the process. This is an injury that hasn’t quite left me, but I have learnt to manage it and I now know when to push myself and when not to. I then started going to my local Parkrun and improved my 5k time (until the weather got too brutal!)
Jan 2016 I missed the twin piers due to tooth extraction (a valid, but painful, excuse), but signed up for a few other 10ks and got my time down to 56 minutes. In May I ran the Liverpool Rock n Roll Half Marathon in 2:05h which was awesome fun! It is this event that we will be running with our students this year, since its such a fun event is organised brilliantly. I have since completed another 10k and also the Conwy Half Marathon, in which I squeeked under 2 hours with a chip time of 1:59:44!
And so it is that the runner in me has been born. It seems I am a runner. More than that – I am a marathoner – and it is these such positive and affirming statements that i will be repeating to myself as I undergo the next few months of training for the big 26.2!