So here’s the plan.
Dan – aka me – is going to go from running novice to marathon regular in the space of a few gruelling months in aid of Clic Sargant. Though, while I’ll certainly be doing it to hopefully raise a decent amount of money for a wonderful charity – it’s also hopefully going to whip me into the shape of my life, push me to my limits and see me reach levels I, until recently, never thought possible.
A bit of background first, perhaps.
I’ve been ‘the fat kid’ for as long as I can remember. Other lads at school used to call me ‘Top Heavy’ and I’d always try to avoid having to go in the shower after PE as I was pretty ashamed of my body.
Then university happened. Years of takeaways, enough beer to kill an elephant and a dreadfully unhealthy lifestyle put me in arguably the worst shape of my life.
As with anyone who is now in their 30s, I’ve had past failed attempts at getting fit. I got a bike and enjoyed it for a month or two until a flat tyre spelled the end of that. I joined a gym and went twice before realising it was a lot of hard work. I decided to take up running but got tired walking to the park.
Three years of living in France, with its cheap bread, delicious pizza and even cheaper lager left me with blood pressure that doctors were getting pretty concerned about.
In November, 2013 my little boy was born. He’s my pride and joy, he lights up my life, but a chronic lack of sleep and eating takeaways whenever the opportunity to actually eat arose saw me balloon to my all-time heaviest. I tipped the scales at over 14.5st – I was exhausted all of the time – and was terrified that my boy would grow up with a dad unable to run around after him (at this stage my moons wobbled when I brushed my teeth).
I decided to do something about it and joined a bootcamp class. It was a revelation for me. Three times a week at 6am and I quickly lost a stone and a half – completed a number of obstacle course races and – somehow – two half marathons. The first was horrendous. Two hours and 22 minutes of hell. I couldn’t walk properly for three days afterward. I managed the second in two hours two seconds. A massive improvement.
However, I struggled with motivation for the sessions a little this summer, and work commitments later in the year mean that, unfortunately, bootcamp is now a thing of the past.
In November I decided that running would be my way of keeping fit. I’d been getting out on and off throughout the year, but upped my distance in November, managing to run 75 miles in a month, three times as much as I’d ever managed before.
Unfortunately though, work commitments through December took their toll, and I only got out for two or three runs.
Which brings us into the present.
As I’m sure many people have in the past, I watched a little bit of the London Marathon on TV this year and decided that – if I put my mind to it – I could do that.
However, I’ve let my brain get ahead of me, and after not winning a place in the London ballot, have signed up to run the Manchester, Belfast and Derry marathons instead.
On April 10 I’ll be in Manchester, attempting to complete the first marathon of my life. On May 2 I’ll do it all over again on the streets of Belfast, and on June 5 I’ll run 26.2 miles for the third time in three months in Derry.
Im going to use this blog to chart my progress. I’m aware that this isn’t a challenge that should be taken lightly. It’s going to take a whole world of commitment and dedication. Running is going to have to cease to be a hobby and become a way of life. But I’m doing it to raise money for a wonderful cause, to prove to myself that I’m stronger than I think, and, honestly, to make my little boy proud of me.
If you had told me two years ago that I’d run two miles I’d have laughed for a week. When I tell people who I haven’t seen for a while what I’m doing they are genuinely completely shocked. They can’t believe it could ever be possible. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. They say that running a marathon is a lot about mental strength, as much as physical, and this blog is as much about charting that progress is as it is about uploads from running apps and pictures of my aching legs. I’ll also never be referring to the marathons as races. In my mind they are endurance challenges. I couldn’t care less how long they take, as long as I reach the end. Finish lines over finish times.
After over indulging at Christmas I feel like I’m as good as starting my running ‘career’ from scratch – though got out today to rack up a slow 8k – slightly more than the 5 the Asics app asked of me.
I hope one or two people will be interested in following my progress. I appreciate any support along the way – and – here’s the begging part – if you’ve a pound or two that you could possibly spare, then it’s going to a magnificent cause.