The London Marathon is this week. If your name is on the entry list and there is currently a feeling in your guts the size and density of a breezeblock then it may be that you have not prepared properly. Perhaps you signed up a year ago, full of bravado. You clothed yourself in the latest lycra, bought some bionic trainers and a watch that measured every function of your body.
And then you started training. And quickly you realized that running wasn't as fun as you previously thought. Staying still was preferable. Your right leg fell out with your left leg and they refused to work together. Soon the rains came and formed puddles and you don't trust puddles because you can never be quite sure how deep they are. And you were always too busy to run, there was always that thing you had to do. And now you are here in the week of the event, looking down at your pristine bionic trainers and sizing up the ethical quandary of accepting sponsorship money for a race run without you.
Do not despair, there are ways. Managing your expectations is vital. Set yourself minuscule targets: like finishing the course without stopping. Or finishing the course without crying. Finishing the course without detouring into a nearby A & E department. If you have previously made vaunting claims to your family and associates about sub-three-hour times then it is possibly sensible to source an antique diving suit and pretend that you intended to complete the marathon in five days all along.
Start slowly. Get slower. Almost like you are walking. Mincing. Mince like you've never minced before. One long triumphant mince through the streets of London. Don't be disheartened to witness the rest of the field stream away from you even if the rest of the field is wearing a half-ton rhino costume or pushing a piano. If you maintain your speed then some of your opponents will come back to you in the latter stages when the race is not a race anymore, it's a queue. A sweaty slow-moving queue. Runners who dashed off too energetically and are now hobbling desperately like an epic trail of refugees in retreat from the motherland. You will pick these losers off.
Take all the onside refreshment on offer. You need the energy. And it's free. And when you finish, which you will, resist the temptation to sink histrionically to your knees and kiss the asphalt. One of your colleagues has probably already vomited there. Celebrate instead with a flute of sparkling Lucozade. Molest a steward. Wrap yourself in one of those tinfoil pashminas and dance a proud jig. Put your medal around your neck and never take it off again. Wear it everywhere. At work, in the shower, in bed. Wear it until an unsightly welt appears on your skin. You've earned that welt.
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