In four weeks' time, thousands of people from around the world will descend on the East Coast of America to take part in the New York City Marathon and I'll be one of them.
If anything, the past 14 weeks of training has opened my eyes to the six stages of Marathon Grief endured by first-timers when they make a commitment to take part in a 26.2 mile race.
Stage 1/ Smugness
You're so cool, you've registered for the marathon. A wave of superiority sweeps the mind and body. You are going to run more miles than you have ever run before, therefore this makes you better than anyone who finishes a Zumba class, Spin class or yoga session without hyperventilating. All of a sudden you've attained the ego of Tony Stark ; you are un-matched in setting athletic goals.
Stage 2/ Denial
The Math revelation. At Stage One, 26.2 miles was just a number with no context. Now, you realize the magnitude of the run. It's the equivalent of 385 footfall fields and you have to navigate this course on foot. I repeat, on FOOT. Your smugness quickly subsides and you begin looking for loopholes in the rules, i.e maybe 26.2 miles is just an ideal goal that you're not obligated to achieve but really you can choose the number of miles you run on the course, right? Right?....
Stage 3/ Anger
The "Holy sh*t, what have I done?" phase. Nothing much more needs to be said about this stage. "What was I thinking?" plays on a loop in your mind, like a really annoying tune that's stuck in your head. Imagine having Rebecca Black's "Friday" on repeat but instead of the song, it's the voice of your inner critic.
Stage 4/ Delusion
Ahh, the comforting stage of creating illusions that take the edge of remembering how far you have to run. Perhaps this begins with a basic plan of "If I run three miles a week and have fries every other day, I'll be fine". This is followed by creating a uplifting mantra such as: "Training will be easy, it's not going to be demanding and anyone who says otherwise is surely crazy." There's only one way this marathon is going to end and it's you moonwalking across that finish line.
Stage 5/ Fright
Delusion only lasts so long. The reality of running a marathon sets in. 'When will these convulsions of fear pass?" you may ask yourself. The duration of the race becomes a more daunting thought. You're no Mo Farah, Mary Keitany or Tigist Tufa but you try to silence self doubt with the knowledge that all you can do is your best no matter how overwhelming it may feel.
Stage 6/ Acceptance
The fright diminishes and is replaced by a wave of relief that takes over your body when it finally sinks in, "I'm running a marathon". Yes you're not Mo, Mary or Tigist but the great news is you don't need to be. You'll train, maybe join a running club and put in the mileage where necessary to help get you to the end. The first person who ever ran a course of this length was a Greek solider named Pheidippides who passed away when he reached his destination. Well we're not soldiers destined to meet his fate but one thing's for sure; after 1 November, we'll be marathon runners and that's a pretty amazing accomplishment.