A Marathon in a Month

In April 2021, I joined a friendly cross-Atlantic comptition, in the form of a Steps Challenge, with my collegues at EnergeiaWorks. Having clocked running total of 101km in December 2020, with wildy varied efforts for January (6.5km) February (62km) and March (24km) of 2021, I suffered from a lack of discipline or goal setting. This step challenge, lasting the thirty days of April was the perfect incentive to get me going again.

I was proud to win the competition (by an admittedly fine margin — hat tip to DC), having to force myself to take continous action in spite of a relentless amount of overlapping, minor injuries and mental blocks. And therein lies the real sense of purpose and pride – prevailing in spite of whatever comes up, and succeeding anyway. I clocked 204km over 22 runs in April, with a few extended walks on rest days. My longest run was 21km, totally a half marathon – a PB for distance.

However, as is typical for me, I lingered too long in my own success. Rather than pressing forward into the next challenge, as any true achiever must, I allowed my newly earned fitness to staginate again for a low 24.5km total clocked for May. Observing this, I decided that I need to find a new challenge.

Mid-May I signed up for the Isle of Man Marathon, scheduled for 8 August 2021. I anticipated that this goal would light a fire in me and with 10+ weeks training, I would have plenty of time to get myself in to top shape. Whilst I have clocked 92km total throughout June, this is far shy of the effort required to actually succeed and run a whole 42km in a single run.

This self-realisation has been accumulating into actual stress; I want to achive this milestone, but I haven’t been working toward this milestone. Two opposing forces creating constant strain.

On 1 July, I was forced to recognise that I find myself at a juncture – should I give myself peace-of-mind and remove the burden of expectation in completing this, instead realigning to other ambitions. …Or, am I actually going to do what I said I would do and fully commit to give this to give the very best effort I can?

I Googled if it was actually possible to train for a marathon in one month, given that I had only gotten myself to half-marathon distance through a heavy month of running in April. I found the article The 30 Day Marathon Training Schedule -or- Are You Crazy? and studied the recommended prerequisites. I am crazy, so that’s a good foundation to continue upon.

Of the Fit Test questions, I scored pretty well (3 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 3). With a score of twelve, I’m advised: “You have a good base of physical fitness, not only can you finish a marathon with 30 days of training, but you might be able to finish a major part of it running.” This was encouraging that the feat might still be feasible.

Today, I completed the Mile Speed Test, pushing out a mile (6.16km) in 8 mins 18 secs at a steady-ish 8/10 effort (I gunned it a little too hard at the start and had to dial it down for the second half). The guide suggested “you have a good level of speed fitness”, despite having never done any speed-focussed training.

Combining the results of these two efforts placed me in the Marathon Runner category – suggesting I should be capable of running the whole distance, if I begin training now.

I’m going to do it. I want to encounter the limits of my focus, ability and ambition to achieve a desired accomplishment. I know to anticipate plenty of highs, lows, victories and defeats, but running a marathon has been on the bucket list for a long while, and this is a great opportunity to check it off.

As well as the actual challenge of completing the fitness training, additional hurdles include scheduling sufficient time for long runs, cleaning up my eating, and ensuring sufficient recovery and rest. Discipline and balance definitely do not come naturally to me, so I’m hopeful that commiting time to blog about this next month will help hold me observant and accountable.