When I hobbled into my physio's office this time last year, for the fourth time in two weeks she asked me if I would be running a marathon again. You see she was 'fixing' a problem with my knee I had picked up whilst training for my first London marathon. I said no, categorically not - I would never be running again. Ever. Fast forward 12 months and I am two and a half weeks away from running the Paris marathon on 7 April, and I will be following this up with the London marathon two weeks later on 21 April. Yes, I'm running two marathons in two weeks, which means I would of run three in the last 12 months. It's fair to say some people think this is a tad insane.
Marathon running isn't something that came easily to me, I have to work hard at it, which is why I really think almost anyone could do it, and should absolutely consider it. I finished last year's marathon in a respectable 4hours 24, I took it slowly and made sure I paced myself and maybe even slightly enjoyed it. To be honest I thought it would take me 5 hours (or even 6!) so to finish quicker seemed unbelievable. I secured a charity place with Breast Cancer Care through one of it's amazing Trustees, Francesca Marvell, it's a charity that means a lot to me and who I will be running for this year as well. At the back of my mind for the whole race I just kept thinking that I couldn't stop running as I would be too embarrassed to tell people I couldn't finish. After spending months raising sponsorship it's fair to say you feel the pressure on the day. Luckily though the months of training - running in the rain, and slogging away for 16 miles on a Sunday morning when everyone else is in bed paid off, and dare I say it, I caught the bug. The day itself is incredible, complete strangers cheering you on really do get you through the day and the feeling of total elation when you finish is unlike anything else I have ever felt. You feel on top of the world and like you can do anything. Unfortunately I learnt you can't, I drank a bit too much champagne when I finished, not enough water and was violently sick afterwards!
Running and training has had such a positive effect on so many aspects of my life that I can't see me giving it up any time soon. It is fair to say it has completely transformed my body. I've lost a stone and a half, developed a totally flat stomach and have slimmer arms, so obviously the physical benefits are definitely worth it! But at work, if I'm tired or sluggish, all I have to do is go for a 30 minute run outside or at the gym and I'm sharper, I get more done, I'm much more productive and more active. I've also learnt that it's a great way to give something back and knowing I am able to help a charity in some way, just by running, is an amazing feeling.
I've just read an interview with Charlie Bewley, an actor in Twilight and he said he thinks there would be fewer problems in the world if people who didn't run took it up, and I completely agree. If I'm stressed at work, or someone has annoyed me (this often happens), running is the best - and cheapest -stress reliever. The endorphins give you a massive rush and what seemed so important before you sent off on a run seems a lot less so by the time you finish.
So if watching this year's London marathon inspires you, then my advice is to start looking for a charity place as soon as you can for 2014 or try and get a ballot place, you will absolutely love it. Just make sure you don't drink too much champagne when you've finished.