Got a spring marathon or half marathon coming up, getting nervous, and scrabbling for some last minute training tips?! Having trained for the last three years for a marathon (yes I only ended up completing one, but that's neither here nor there...;-)) and with three half marathons under my belt I feel like I'm at least semi qualified to give this advice!
I have a lot of people to thank, everyone who donated to the charity, to everyone for their messages of support, my friends family and work colleagues, Tom, everyone at Psycle and everyone involved in the world marathon challenge; the organisers, the volunteers, the support crews and my fellow runners.
If you relate to any of this, know that it is possible to recover, to rediscover balance, there are things in place to help you and I know it's a scary step to take but I am living proof that you won't regret it; there is no shame in asking for help and no greater strength than the overcoming of inner turmoil.
Nothing could have prepared me for how I felt when I first saw the empty infinity stretch out in front of me. I could hear it goading me. What right do you have to be here! It shouted. This was mankind's most deadly theatre. It had consumed armies; halted dictators and sucked the life out of the unprepared. It was going to chew me up and spit me out. It told me it would destroy me. It would spare my life but not my dignity. I nodded politely but then stared it down, hard. I had other ideas. "Let's see", I said, as I turned and walked back down the hillock of sand (I tripped a little as I got to the bottom).
On the 23rd January myself and 32 others will be starting an attempt to run 7 marathons in 7 days on the 7 continents around the world. The challenge starts on a glacier in Antarctica and then travels through Chile, Miami, Madrid Marrakesh, Dubai before finishing in Sydney. I will have 168 hours to cover 183 miles with around 60 hours of flying thrown in for good measure.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of running my first marathon*. It was the London Marathon in April 1997. Over the same period of time, longer in fact, I have also been an observer and analyst of Middle Eastern politics. Reflecting on two obsessions that have been important in my professional and personal life, what have I learnt from marathon running that can be applied to my analysis and observation of Middle Eastern politics?