My first marathon

Hobbling around the house, thinking you’re done. That’s when you ask yourself some important questions.

My first marathon
I was running on fumes, what little strength I had left. My muscles had had enough, body saying stop, head feeling slightly delirious. Yet for me there was no option but to keep going.
I'm talking about running a marathon of course. Around about the 23 mile mark for me, when I ran the London Marathon (virtual) two weeks ago. My first marathon.
Why am I writing about this? Does it relate to being a designer or indie creator? It does and I'll get to that later.
Back to the story.
They say the last 5 miles is a marathon in itself. I found that hard to believe as I'd trained up to 20 miles without any ill effects. Sure enough though, it most definitely was.
In those last 5 miles, and with the training, you learn a lot about yourself. How much do you want this? Are you a finisher or a quitter? Can you ignore short term pain in pursuit of a timeless achievement? Why are you even doing this?
In your ‘last 5’ delirium, all these crazy questions actually have a purpose. They distract you from the discomfort. By the time you've answered them in your head you realise you're at the finish line!
"You don't have to be so tough that it doesn't hurt, you just have to be tough enough not to quit”
My marathon journey effectively began in January, after my 50th birthday. I say effectively as that's when I committed. In truth, I'd wanted to do one for most of my adult life, but a little voice always said that's out of my reach. It's for other people. So this year I decided to challenge myself. I signed up for not one, but two virtual marathons in 2022. That way it would be harder to give up.
My first attempt ended in May with a case of covid after 90% of the training. I was disappointed, but not deterred. I kept running all summer, slowly building up distance again.
Then, three days before London, I strained a thigh muscle. I was hobbling around the house, thinking that was it. In reality it gave me pause to ask myself some important questions. How much do you want this? Is it impossible, or are you just telling yourself that?
In that moment, I chose to use self-compassion. I told myself not to get emotional, not to say it’s over. Instead, to be positive and patient with my body, and to feel good for how far I’d come. I don’t know if it was that or two days of heat pack treatment, but something worked. On marathon day morning, I felt good. It was on.
The rest is a bit of a blur, looking back. I felt confident from the training, which helped mentally. However, I wanted not to simply finish, but to come in under 4 hours. In the end I managed both, with the help and support of some friends and family towards the end.
If you’d asked me on the day if I’d do it again, I’d have said no. Then the discomfort subsides and you realise you’re ok. You did it. So I’ve put my name down in the ballot for the next one.
So why am I telling you all this? How does it relate to being a designer or indie creator?
I’ve realised in recent years how much you need resilience to do either. They’re roles that require you to commit to uncertainty. To try, without really knowing if you can. To stick your neck out, and not wait for permission.
Those, after all, are exactly what’s needed to run a marathon. By getting uncomfortable, you start to feel more comfortable. The Backwards Law in action.
The important lesson is to run your own race, not get caught up in what you think (or get told) you can or can’t do. After all, I can now say I’m a marathoner. Nothing can take that away.
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