10 days until the Manchester Marathon – thoughts of a first-timer

Written by Alexander Randall

It’s scary how quickly the Manchester Marathon has crept around – it seems like little time has passed since (this time last year) I decided to commit to what will be the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my short 18 months of ‘running’.

Perhaps I was a little naïve at the prospect… I remember thinking to myself that it was just two half marathons, and at the time I could do a half-marathon relatively comfortably; little did I know how much harder the second half would be on tired legs. If my training has told me anything, there comes a point where the mental game must be stronger than the endurance game – at least for me. From my training runs, this seems to kick in anywhere from mile 16 – where the conscious effort must be made to voluntarily push through the pain.

Refuelling is something I had never done before – I’ve always been used to just leaving the door with my keys and running watch. Now, I’m heading out the door with a fully-fledged running backpack, filled with an arsenal of SIS gels, jelly babies, and a camelback which is reminiscent of my DofE expeditions. I’m still not getting it quite right with when & how much to have – generally finding myself flagging towards mile 18/19 of a 21 miler. I wonder if this can be helped through hydration/refuelling – or if I’m just tired.

So, how am I feeling currently? If I’m honest, it’s a complete mix of pure excitement and apprehension, with a little element of fear on the side. With this being my first ever running event, the idea of running with others, each covering the same distance and course is super exciting – I’m looking forward to meeting those of you with who I’m fortunate to cross paths, in a few Sundays time. Also, the excitement, and pride I take in running for Cancer Research UK – the main driving force in why I decided to take on this challenge.

The apprehension comes from the unknown – the event, the start, the atmosphere – as I keep saying, I’ve never done anything like this before, but knowing the team at Manchester Marathon have been working so hard behind the scenes to make this a safe and smooth event does rest those nerves when I come to think about it.

Then there’s the fear – unfortunately, I seem to have picked up a few little niggles with my left knee. For those who watched a marathon update video I made way back, injury was my biggest fear. I’m still able to run on it fortunately, I’m just trying to strike the perfect balance of running enough not to detrain, but not too much to put me in a bad place. All I can do is listen to my body and trust the pros!

So, it’s not long to go now. The hard work is pretty much done – it’ll be soon time to celebrate the hard work we’ve all endured over the past few months. See you in 10 days time!