Excuse my French…

Shiiiiiiiit I’m running a marathon in less than three days.

I still don’t believe I’ll make it there. I still don’t believe, if I do make it there, that I’ll finish. A conversation like this happened last Friday with Ben:

Me: “How many Euros do we need?”

Ben: “Not sure…let’s work out how many meals we’ll be having and go from there”.

Me: “Yeah and if I’m not going it’ll be half that.”

Ben: “What?”

Understandably Ben gets frustrated with me. I get frustrated with myself. But I feel embarrassed even admitting to people I’m off to run the Paris marathon. The look of surprise (and pity) when I say my longest run has been 15 miles.

Two 11 milers, three 13.1 milers, one 15 miler…


Can I count a 17 miler and 16 miler in November…? No…damn.

But it’s all about positive thinking. Like many people have said, you can walk 26.2 miles with no major issues (just a bit tiring). It’s all about the ego really. And understanding the pacing I go out at. It’s not like a half marathon where if at 8 miles you feel a bit rough you can reassure yourself you’ll be done in five miles. If I feel rough at 8 miles I am screwed. But back to that positive thinking…

I have so many arguments prepared in my head to argue with the girl inside who starts to struggle. I have a lot of pride and will power to keep going. The only thing that will stop me finishing is if I’m in genuine pain from an injury. Otherwise, JUST KEEP RUNNING.

I know for me this is mental thing as much as a physical thing (though I’m pretty sure by mile 18 it will feel pretty much all physical 😉 To combat this I’ve got my race planned out so it doesn’t feel like one miler after another.

First ten miles (a gel somewhere at 8 miles?) I will be ‘soaking up the atmosphere’ and warming up (I like to say ‘warming up’ to convince myself 10 miles isn’t that long).

10-20 miles potentially another gel and if I fancy it, I’ll pop on a podcast.

I KNOW. I KNOW. All you running purists out there will be shaking your heads at me for doing something as sacrilege as listening to something while running a marathon around a beautiful and spectacular city race. But this is my race and I know I’m going to need every little bit of help I can get. Listening to my favourite podcast (BBC 5 Live Film Reviews) will allow my mind to stay calm, my pace to stay even and keep me from panicking. It’s not like I’m throwing a bag over my head.

20-the end (another gel at 20) – this will very much depend on how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling good and the pace is still doing OK then I will soak up the atmosphere again. If things are looking shaky and I’m struggling then I’ll pop some music on and try and hang in there.

In defence of my iPod usage…I use music for nearly all my races. I love listening to music. I see it as a race soundtrack. I can still hear the shouting and cheering but there’s something special about hearing music as I run. It flavours the race and whenever I listen to a certain song that was on during that race I get memories.

But anyway, it will all depend on the day I think. Obviously I do have some ambitions for the race BUT I am also very realistic in what I can actually achieve. These goals are nothing like my previous ones and ultimately my only true goal (that I’ll be sad if I don’t hit) is finishing. It’s my first marathon and let’s be honest my training has been pretty rubbish. This is not the end of the line, just the start of something exciting I hope!

Au revoir! See you on the other side – in one piece I hope!

For races, do you plan out your ‘game plan’ beforehand?

If you do, do you stick to it or have you been known to go ‘off piste’?

Do you listen to music when you run or work out?

11 Replies to “Excuse my French…”

  1. Waaaaaa!!!!! Can’t believe it’s come round so quickly! It sounds as though you have everything planned. There’s nothing you can change now so get yourself to Paris and have an absolute blast! As you say, this is just the start and hopefully you’ll have many more marathons ahead with an injury-free build up. Keep your head held high, enjoy and good luck xx

  2. You will be brilliant because you’re driven. Just remember though, it isn’t about killing yourself and there will be other marathons. Enjoy it and enjoy Paris one of my favourite cities in the world. When you’ve finished head to The Marais quarter for some food and Ben’s well earned vino! Keep me posted on the day xx

  3. I’m sure there was an article linked to on a blog (I’m 99% it was Hungry Runner Girl) that talked about the benefits of having short runs as your ‘long’ marathon training runs. I definitely remember a couple who never ran over 16 miles in their training cycles, and they were running 3:20s-3:30s. Their overall weekly mileage was high, granted, but still…I wouldn’t write yourself off just yet 😉

    I don’t have a plan…I have multiple plans because if something is going to/can go wrong for me, then it will. I have to be prepared for everything because otherwise my anxiety gets out of control and that would be exceptionally dangerous for me in a race situation. Listen to whatever you want! Anyone who judges you for that needs to get a life – running is what you make of it and whether you have music etc. or not doesn’t make you any ‘less’ of a runner. I love the 5 Live Film Reviews too – only place where if something is really bad then they will tell it like it is, usually with some very witty/snarky commentary involved 😀

    Best of luck for Paris, but I know you won’t need it!


  4. OH god, I hear you on ALL of the above. I too am trying to work out what my race plan looks out, now that all pace and timing ideas are out the window thanks to injury. I’ve done one 18 miler, but other than that – very similar to you. Right now the “what if’s” are running through my head – “what if I had done longer weekday runs”, “what if I had managed to squeeze in more cross training and yoga”, “what if I had worked harder” – but it’s too late. Paris is here.

    In all honesty, I think I am feeling a weird sense of calm. My race will be what it will be. Eff the time. Eff the pace. It’s my first marathon, and no one will take that away from me. Like you, the only way I will not cross the finish line is if unbearable (and REALLY UNBEARABLE) pain stops me. Run, jog, walk, or crawl – I will make it across that distance, just like thousands of undertrained others have done before me.

    I wasn’t planning on running with music either, but my revised strategy says – you know what, it’s OK to do what YOU need to do.

    Best of luck for Sunday – I’ll be thinking of you! xx

  5. I’ve been working out my head arguments this week as well. At my 20 mile race the other week I sternly talked to myself on several occasions and was much more in check of my pace than I have been in the past.
    I have been ummming and ahhhing for a while about running with a podcast on for London as well. I say – if it works for you, then go for it! I think I’m going to run without my iPod (even though I’ve run with it during lone training runs), purely because I want to soak up the atmosphere of London and not miss a thing, as well as knowing I will be able to concentrate more on my running and not let the little voice in my head creep it’s way in! But it might work at distracting you…everyone’s different!
    One of the guys I regularly run long distance with swears by lots of little runs in the build up to marathon day rather than building up a really long run each week. I think basically your legs are going to ache no matter what, but you’re going to feel great when you cross that line!
    I am so excited for you and really looking forward to reading your recap next week! 🙂

  6. YOU CAN DO IT!!!! You are one of the strongest runners I know and I have confidence you will power through!! Also I listen to music during races and, just like you, whenever certain songs come on now I am instantly brought back to that moment. I love it! Good luck!

  7. Best of luck for the race, just stay positive throughout. I find after a certain point it’s much more mental than physical, and I always think if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other I’ll make it. For me the most important thing is just to enjoy it, soak up the day and the atmosphere.

  8. Good luck!!!!!
    I don’t think headphones are a bad thing in races, just when people have their music on so loud it gets dangerous. They were banned for when I did Stockholm, but people had them on and they weren’t strict, and there was a point at around 15 miles I think where it was in a park, the runners were spread out, no people watching, and I just felt miles from anywhere, and really wished I had my headphones with me at that point to give me a mental boost more than anything. When I first started running I “needed” the music so I could not hear my breathing as I would get rather alarmed, then panic, and then breathe even worse. Now I run probably half with and half without- I like that I can choose, but I do like catching up on podcasts.
    I do try to pace myself now by printing off a pacer strip (or writing the mile splits on a piece of paper) , and if there are pacer runners I decide who to go with. But with a marathon so much depends on how you feel on the day too. Having a fuelling strategy is important, so it is good you think about it. I also thought about people who helped me with my training, and saved those thoughts for later in the race. I also had a little chant (all tips from marathon talk)- mine was run steady, finish strong. Well, I did run steady (and I didn’t walk which was my target) but I didn’t really finish strong, but I did finish before the 6 hour cut off! I have no idea how many times I said that to myself though!
    Good luck though, and I really hope you enjoy it. I have every confidence in you- you have a great standard of fitness and as long as you take your time then you will finish- just don’t get tempted to race someone.
    Mega comment!
    Look forward to your mega recap!!

Leave a Reply to Leah Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.