2 min read
29 Apr


I am a marathoner. 

It doesn’t quite feel real, even a few weeks on. This is one of the biggest achievements of my life and eclipses my career and business accomplishments. I think that’s because it’s so darn difficult, whatever level of runner you are. 

Nobody is paying you to do it (quite the reverse, it’s an expensive affair), nobody is making you do it. You must really, really want it to get to that start line. 

This midlife project has changed my life. 

Winter miles   

Winter miles lead to spring smiles. But I had not quite appreciated before signing up that to run a spring marathon involves training right throughout the cold, dark, winter months. Starting just before Christmas. 

As a comfortable (albeit relatively slow) half-marathoner from the outset, the first half of the block leading up to half marathon distance wasn’t too taxing physically or mentally, but it’s an important grounding for what’s to come. 

So, I’m glad I didn’t try to skip them, but with hindsight I probably could have made more of those earlier sessions in terms of practising pace and technique. The furthest I’d ever run before this halfway point in training was 14 miles. 

The weeks that followed were entirely unchartered waters for me: 16 miles, 17.5 miles, 18.5 miles and 20 miles. That final long run took over 4 hours and it rained continuously. It was a huge accomplishment, but still only 75% of the distance!       


This is why so many people who run long distance choose to raise money for charity at the same time. When you are questioning your life choices, having committed to help a cause helps with motivation, big time. 

I chose to use my own-place entry to run with team Mind and I set my fundraising target at the same level as my charity place teammates. It’s no secret that I’ve had issues with my mental health in the past. 

[side note - delighted to report that I smashed that fundraising target]

With those problems behind me for now and having recently become fitter it was a no-brainer. There’s also something quite fitting – I discovered, the challenge of long-distance is about physical and mental endurance in equal measures. 

Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.


Who am I? 

I used to be famously ‘glass half-empty’, or if you were feeling charitable, a realist. That sort of attitude won’t get you to the finish line though when everything hurts, so it’s had to be retired. The body achieves what mind believes. 

And it did, relatively unscathed, in a time of 5 hours, 40 minutes and 19 seconds. Ten minutes outside my goal time which I was annoyed about for about half a day until I remembered that I HAD RUN A MARATHON. Joined the 1% club. 

Nothing went wrong until 23 miles, 3 miles further than I’d run before. I made the mistake of letting the vision of the pacer heading off in the distance get into my head. Big mistake - the legs protested, and I had to run/walk/shuffle a “parkrun”. 

Lots of learnings for next time. I had a funny feeling I would not be a "one and done". 

What’s next? 

I’m currently working on a training block to improve my half-marathon PB, then I’ll roll into a couple of months of base training before my second marathon block starts in December. 

I have a place at Manchester in 2025 which I will keep, unless the near-miracle of a ballot place for London 2025 materialises (the events are on the same day next year.) The opportunity to run London will win out, sorry Manchester, you’ll keep 😊 

And outside of running? Marathon training improves your mental resilience immeasurably. You will develop the ultimate can-do mindset. You will learn how to deal with working towards an ‘impossible’ goal by breaking it down into steps. 

You will need to compromise to fit a marathon training schedule into your life, so your prioritisation skills and ability to say no to things that hinder your goal sharpen. You will meet your true self and start to discover what you’re truly capable of. 

Highly recommended. 

© Jo Gordon Consulting Ltd 2024

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