Really?! Am I ready?!

There is a recognised phenomenon or condition known as 'maranoia' - commonplace amongst distance runners, and particularly true of novices. In essence, what happens is that as race day approaches there seems to be a dramatic increase in incidence of aches/pains/niggles that threaten to derail things... many (even most) of which turn out to be imaginary or exaggerated. Catastrophising about the various non-medical things that could go wrong is often a symptom of maranoia too. When one considers the hours of hard training invested over several months, it is easy to understand such heightened sensitivity and a fear that everything might go to waste if you don't actually make it to the finish, or - even worse - not even to the start line.

My structured training began in late May. I have typically done four runs per week, with a maximum single distance of 32km (20 miles) and my highest weekly total being 64km (40 miles). I've generally been quite pleased with the way my training has gone, and have certainly enjoyed not having to do so much in the dark or contending with winter storms as I did in 2020. This summer's heatwave did disrupt the pattern slightly, and a niggle with my left knee in recent weeks has caused me to miss a few of the scheduled runs and necessitated a couple of visits to the physio, but overall it has been OK. This morning (28th September), I had my last local run before the marathon and was treated to the spectacular sunrise shown at the top of this page - what a treat, and a reminder of God's faithfulness.

The first 20 miles are just 'transport';

the real race starts after that!

Whichever way you look at it, and regardless of whether you measure in kilometres or miles, a marathon is a long way. The training is designed to prepare you physically and expose you to some of the mental challenge too, but the longest training run actually falls short of the full distance by 10km (6 miles). That's done deliberately in order to avoid your body being stretched too far simply for a 'practice'; a full marathon takes its toll. What it does mean is that the final section of the race is less predictable, and therefore the most challenging and potentially daunting. When tackling the full 42km, it is said that you run the first 16km with your brain, the next 16km with your legs, and the final 10km with your heart! The finish line might seem way off in the distance, but you just keep heading towards the horizon. When everything aches and your body is yelling "Stop!", it really is a case of 'mind over matter' and staying focused on why you're doing it.

Low tide at Rustington Beach: head for the horizon

There are all sorts of things to think about and prepare in advance of the day itself, including: what to eat and when; what to wear; what to carry during the race and how; how to get to the right starting zone at the right time; what to pack in the bag ready for the finish; where to look out for supporters and on the course and how to meet them at the end. There is of course a certain amount that could be resolved early on, but - for some reason - there always seems to be quite a lot to finalise in the last few days!

I'll be heading to London on Friday 30th to collect my race number and complete my registration, and will then be based in Crystal Palace until the big day itself. Transport has been made a little more complicated due to the rail strikes, but I'm still hoping that I'll be able to use public transport to reach the start on Sunday morning. Runners are assigned different starting areas and released in waves; I am in 'Red 7' and expect to start the race leaving Greenwich Park just before 10.30am. My target time is somewhere around 4.5 hours so I don't expect to finish until about 3.00pm, which means I need to think carefully about breakfast and food to carry with me. No midday roast lunch for me this week - but I'll be looking forward to dinner!

The organisers have put together a useful webpage detailing various ways in which you can follow the London Marathon, including television coverage from the BBC. The route is typically lined with supporters, and London is renowned for having one of the best atmospheres of any marathon. My wife and sons are planning to head up, and my brother too; if you're around London yourself, then please do look out for me in my distinctive and clearly branded Feba shirt. You can find details of the course by clicking here.

It should be fairly easy to spot my Feba shirt! (It will also have my name and race number on it.)

If you're interested, there is actually a dedicated app for both Android and Apple devices: you should be able to find it if you search for 'TCS London Marathon 2022', but these links should take you directly to the relevant pages:

Android devices: For Google Play, click here

iPhones: For Apple App Store, click here

The app has a handy 'Tracking' function that enables you to follow the progress of anyone taking part in this year's event. If you search for 'Bob Chambers' then you should find me listed, and you just click the '+' sign to add me to your list. There are a series of timing mats set on the road along the course (11 of them in total) and they'll record when each runner passes over them, updating in the app automatically. There is also a live 'Map' function (subject to GPS connectivity) which should show more detailed location and progress information for any runner you might be tracking.

Logo for the dedicated TCS London Marathon 2022 app

Whilst the focus of attention at the moment is London, I cannot afford to forget that there's another date in the diary: I'm planning to run the Cape Town Marathon on 16th October as well, and so need to ensure that I don't do anything reckless that could cause injury. Tackling two marathons in close succession will be a real challenge for me - even if fully fit. Assuming I get around the course in London safely on Sunday, then I'll need to rest and refuel over the coming fortnight. London will only be my third ever run at marathon distance, and I've certainly never attempted two such endurance events so close together. I'm making no assumptions.

This is obviously a personal challenge, but I am doing it to raise funds for Feba. I was delighted that the response in 2020 was so positive and generous, and am hoping to raise a reasonable amount this year too. The double effort makes this quite a different prospect! Please don't feel obliged, however, especially if you contributed first time around. Whether or not you choose to donate, I'd certainly value your prayers please. Thank you for your interest and support.

"On your marks..." - am I ready? I think so - almost!

To sponsor Bob's double Marathon efforts, please click here

To read more blog posts about his preparations, please click here

Banner image: Sunrise on Rustington Beach - at the end of my final training run on 28th September