This month’s blog had to be about completing my first Marathon for seventeen and a half years in Amsterdam. More than ever people are undertaking the challenge of a marathon with a record amount of people applying for the London Marathon; this year 247,069 people applied. Other running events are becoming ever popular, in Newport the Lliswerry 8 sold out in two days for example.
As with running, cycling has boomed since the Olympics. Surprisingly not so much amongst the young , but the middle aged have been inspired and those of us who are clinging on to that age range now.
What has driven this explosion of activity in our population?
I think there is an awareness amongst many older people that planning for older age is no longer simply about building a pension pot, it has to be about having the health to enjoy ones later years as well. I think there is also a resistance to growing older, I sometimes laugh at myself with my club running vest (something I initially resisted strongly) warming up as if I were a young athlete waiting to be spotted by the talent scouts. To me, part of running has been about belonging to a running club and joining a community of people very different to my normal circle of friends. Another aspect has been about losing weight and trying to get fit, but I guess a lot of it is the challenge of saying I am still not past it. I was very proud to get a personal best for my third Marathon at 3.37.59 beating my first effort almost 27 years ago.
I also feel in society we are often conflicted between getting instant results to realising the need to plan for the long term. We move from the impersonal relations formed by social media to yearning for human contact. Recently at our executive meetings we have had to ban phones and other mobile devises, because although we like meeting each other, it is very easy to be lured away by an urgent survey monkey request asking whether you like milk with your coffee. The technological world of communication has been revolutionary but it has also meant we sometimes lose the ability to concentrate on more complex matters.
A marathon is something you have to plan and train for. It is something not to be embarked on without preparation and however many on line training plans you read, it cannot replace the doing required to fulfil the activity. In the same way with people trying to recover from addictions, as my father Eric Blakebrough wrote, there is ‘No Quick Fix’. It is easy to make a resolution to quit but it is much harder to actualise this. So what is critical is for you to have a plan, it may be one that follows what others from a professional perspective or personal experience themselves promote. It may be like me, you decide you will have your own plan but you do need a commitment to train. You do need commitment, perseverance and those around you who can support you. They may not be running the marathon but they sometimes run with you, they ask how you are doing and they are there when you cross that finish line, either physically or in spirit.