THE BLOG

The Eight Things You Should Never Say to a First-time Marathon Runner

17/01/2016 17:35 GMT | Updated 17/01/2017 10:12 GMT

Two weeks in and, having written out, colour-coded - and then promptly ignored - my 16-week marathon training plan (clocking up more than 80km in the process), I'm actually starting to enjoy even the thought of squeezing into a bit of lycra.

Now, I'm not sure everyone is enjoying my running chat (I'll admit confessing to the Board directors where I work that I wear blister-resist running socks and running pants to bed just to make the mornings as seamless as possible was a bit of an overshare).

But, it does seem that every man and his dog has something to say about my - some might say - reckless marathon challenge. And, I've got to admit, some of it is just a little bit weird.

What anyone faced with relentless street pounding, high vis outfits and reduced quantities of alcohol does not want to hear is any of the following:

1) Training over the summer would be so much easier

Yes, quite frankly, it would. But, I'm not sure Virgin will let me move the marathon so pointing out the obvious flaw in the training plan is not hugely helpful. Long days, a little bit of lycra - rather than a truck load of layers - and, oh yes, beautiful sunshine does sound palatial. But, this is England, the thermal headband actually keeps my earphones on and I quite like dark mornings because no one can see my pain - or my wild hair!

2016-01-15-1452897953-3276899-2016010914.53.01.jpg

2) It's not that far

No, in a car, it's not (although in London it might take longer in a vehicle). On foot, 26.2 miles is a very, very, very, very, long way. Yes, ultra-marathon running may be the new marathon running, but for every first-timer, it doesn't help being reminded that there are thousands of people more awesome than you.

3) I hear you need to put Vaseline on your nipples

If Marathon News (yes, with every entry comes a free marathon magazine) is to be believed, 100lbs of the petroleum jelly is used to treat runners' chafing during the London Marathon. But, where you choose to put that Vaseline should - unless you are offering expert tips - remain a private matter. Particularly when the person you're talking to has had mastectomy surgery for breast cancer and doesn't actually have a full complement of nipples.

4) I did a half marathon once. Couldn't imagine doing it twice.

Yep, I thought that too when crossing the finish line at the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October - and vowed never to think it again. When I had my pelvis sawn in three, repositioned and pinned back together, I couldn't imagine walking again. When I had my tummy fat stripped out and my stomach superglued after cancer surgery, I never thought I'd stand upright again. When I ran my first ever 10k on chemo, I thought I would end up in A&E. I probably shouldn't be doing this, but I am. And, right now, it feels pretty awesome.

2016-01-15-1452899015-4699342-2015101108.50.18.jpg

5) Apparently, the average runner ends up 1cm shorter after the race

You're missing one vital component from this running factoid, which is incredibly important for someone checking in at 5ft 3in (and a very important ½). The height change only lasts a day! The marathon may break my marginally bionic and rearranged body, but please don't let it make me shorter.

6) How do you avoid another Paula Radcliffe poo-gate?

Really? Are we actually going to talk about my bowel movements? Boobs after breast cancer is fine. Pooing? Not so much. I have one word for you: Imodium.

7) Running is so bad for your knees

So is sitting on the sofa! Every sport brings with it an element of risk but, given my knees are among the only parts of my body that haven't yet malfunctioned spectacularly (touching all wood available), I'll take my chances.

8) What next?

The marathon is a big deal so I'm not sure anyone needs to better it before they've even broken a sweat. This question should be reserved for days when the finish line is but a distant memory and the marathoner (yes, we even have our own word) is still feeling a little bit smug. I may be on the verge of signing up to the Breast Cancer Care overnight Pink Ribbonwalk (a long, yet rather more relaxing 20-mile night sightseeing tour of our beautiful city) and a 100km trek, but you're not allowed to mention it until the metal hip survives round one.

So before you decide to quiz people on their bodily functions and lubrication regimes, just remember, less than one million people (963,807 to be exact) have finished the London Marathon.

I reckon we all deserve a medal just for getting out there and giving it a go.