...but how, and for what?

Having successfully completed the marathon distance run on 26th April, a period of recovery was my priority for early May. I'd obviously not experienced anything quite like it before so these were uncharted waters, but I knew in general terms that I should take things a little easier for a short while.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well I felt in the couple of days after the marathon: I can honestly say that I had just a few aches but no significant pains. I was therefore fairly confident that I was ready for an easy run on 2nd May, so decided to head back to the start line at the mouth of the River Arun. 

It was slightly frustrating that the Feba running shirts that had been ordered in readiness for my marathon arrived literally a couple of days after the date of the run itself. They should have been available in plenty of time, but were delayed due to the effects of Covid-19 on the supply chain. My first post-marathon leg stretch was therefore also the first public outing for the clearly branded Feba shirt!

So, if you ever spot me - or anyone else - out and about wearing one of those distinctive shirts, then please do give us a shout!

I don't know whether it was the result of having had a few days of good rest, and/or the lasting benefit of the marathon preparation, but I somehow managed to clock my fastest mile and kilometre times on that supposedly 'easy run' (7:26 and 4:28)! I think in truth that it was in part due to the relief associated with knowing that I was free to run as I pleased - not guided or bound by a structured training plan; I felt fine, so ran faster. Ten days later, I achieved another kilometre personal best of 4:22.

The basic routine for the first four months of the year had been to run on Tue/Wed/Thu/Sat each week, with Saturday always being the longer run. Through May and June, I settled into a more relaxed Tue/Thu/Sat pattern and maintained the practice of heading out for a longer distance route on Saturdays. The combination of some wonderful weather plus flexibility to incorporate some mixed terrain and various distances meant that I could get back on the trails rather than pavements. Our proximity to the South Downs means that there are plenty of readily accessible paths and bridleways with truly stunning views. I do find my long off-road runs really refreshing - a wonderful way to clear my head - a treat at the end of a busy working week.

We are perhaps doubly blessed in terms of location, insomuch that we're on the coast too. The early sunrises at this time of year make pre-breakfast running more appealing, and when coupled with a very low tide it is possible to complete a decent run on the deserted beach. Hardly 'Chariots of Fire', but it's really enjoyable to plough through the shallow pools in what the SatNav is convinced is deep sea water!

Whilst virtually all my midweek runs have been solo, I have managed on a couple of occasions to persuade my elder son to slow down sufficiently for me to keep up with him (- sort of)! There is no realistic prospect of me keeping up with him normally, but I can be fairly confident that I beat him on the endurance stakes - for now! It's lovely to share an interest in running and to get out together.

One of the things I've been clocking up over recent months has been my tally of half marathon distance runs: I have now managed at least one outing of 13.1 miles or more in each month since September 2019, having only achieved that for the first time at the 'Run Gatwick Half Marathon' in May 2019. I'm beginning to feel reasonably confident and comfortable doing that distance, albeit steadily.

There are normally plenty of organised events to choose from - for anyone who enjoys the sense of occasion or competition they bring; I have found it quite fun to run with a group and to experience the sensation of having closed roads and spectators along the route. Unfortunately, however, the calendar has been pretty much cleared since the start of lockdown, with mass gatherings cancelled across the UK and beyond. Interestingly, at the time of writing this blog the rescheduled London Marathon is still in for Sunday 4th October. There have been a few updates and another is due in late July, but in essence the organisers have said they remain hopeful that a solution of some sort might be possible - with all the necessary approvals - in order for the event to take place. I'm not holding my breath...

...but the reality is that if I'm to be ready for early October then I need to commit to a structured training schedule - again! When I undertook to run a marathon for Feba, I can assure you that I only envisaged it being a single race! The idea of having to go through the hours of training all over again can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming or depressing - especially when there is still such a question mark hanging over whether or not it will actually take place. Set against that, however, is the knowledge that I have achieved it once and so should be able to do it again - and the experience of taking part in the London Marathon would doubtless be very special.

The motivation for the original challenge was to raise funds for Feba. I am really grateful for people's extremely generous gifts - especially at a time of some financial uncertainty. I haven't been promoting this recently, but donations have continued to come in: my fundraising effort has now reached just over £3,700, and almost £4,500 including Gift Aid. Raising funds for Feba does make this worthwhile for me personally, and it really does make a tremendous difference to know that I'm not doing this alone. If you could possibly make a donation of whatever value then I would be so very grateful. Thank you.

Finally, please do send any comments, questions, encouragements, or suggestions using the Contact Form or calling the office - it would be lovely to hear from you.

I must decide what to do about October...

If you would like to sponsor me, please see my fundraising page.

To read more about my marathon efforts, please click here.

Thank you!

Photo/video credits: River Arun, Littlehampton Beach and South Downs © Bob Chambers.