I’ve massaged at lots of running races over the past few years. Treating charity runners who flop down on my massage couch with a big grin at the end of an enormous personal challenge such as a marathon is massively rewarding, it’s practically impossible not to get caught up in the buzz.
I have a love-hate relationship with running too, and at each and every marathon I’ve worked at since qualifying as a therapist, I’ve felt a growing urge to swap places with the runners on my couch. So it was really only a matter of time until I joined the Marathon Club.
Inspiration came in the form of a Womble. Treating Orinoco at the London marathon, I felt the urge to experience what he was feeling. Not the sweaty fur exactly, but the unique mix of relief, exhilaration and utter fatigue that comes when you’ve schlepped 26.2 sweaty, painful miles in the company of thousands of strangers. So with Brighton being my hometown, that was my marathon of choice.
Fast forward a year and apart from getting a nice shiny medal (and cursing the Womble on just about every freezing training run in the South Downs), the past 12 months has taught me a real lesson in ‘practice what you preach’. I suffered the classic problems for a marathon newbie: rock-solid calfs, the curious effects of energy gels in training and a textbook case of runner’s knee. But I did it, and got round in just over four hours.
Would I do one again? Yep, most definitely. A sub-4 hour beckons – once I’ve sorted my squeaky knees out. So for the next six months my training involves running combined with a strengthening exercise programme. Clams are going to be my friend, and I don’t mean the fishy kind.