You come to see that a man learns nothing from winning. The act of losing however can elicit great wisdom, not least how much more enjoyable it is to win. It's inevitable to lose now and again, the trick is not to make a habit of it - taken from 'A Good Year' (cracking film)
If you've been following me for a while now you'll know that I ran the London marathon in April. I set myself up with the aim of completing a sub 4hr marathon. I didn't get that time, I wasn't even close. I ran 4hrs 17 minutes. A completely respectable time and by no stretch did I lose the race but do you know what, I gained a whole load of wisdom on the way.
Here's what running a marathon taught me:
1. The only person who cares about your time is you - honestly, go and ask people you work with now what time you got, they won't have a clue.
2. Baby food works just as well as all of those fancy gels - I found a gel that worked for me on this training cycle - SiS seem to work with a sensitive stomach. However, I took Ella's Kitchen pouches on my long runs and with me on the day. They're real food and gave me energy but no sickly feeling.
3. You'll need a long time to recover physically - you'll need a good couple of weeks to recover and running a Tough Mudder the next weekend is a ridiculous idea.
4. You'll need even longer to recover mentally - a marathon takes up so much headspace, you'll sort of miss it when it's gone
5. You can be amongst millions of people and still feel incredibly alone - something I hadn't prepared for was how lonely I'd feel on route. I had an overwhelming feeling of being alone and would now swap running with a friend over a PB any day.
6. You get the time you deserve - I didn't train hard enough for sub 4. I had a light training programme as it was and then didn't put the time in to the sprint and hill sessions which makes such a difference
7. Not "winning" is humbling - if I'm honest I thought I could take a short cut to running sub 4. You can't. I've shown you don't have to train too intensively to get a good time but to get a great time you've got to put the work in.
8. Respect the distance - no matter whether or not you've done one before, running a marathon is still a bloody long way.
9. The universe has a funny way of putting you on the path you're meant to be on - even when you try and race it to be on a different one. I didn't get the time I wanted, I didn't deserve to. Yet I still had THE most incredible time and I got my medal from the future Queen of England.
10. You'll definitely say never again - and immediately sign up for next year's ballot.
In writing this I've realised that this is exactly why I love challenges like this. You're tested physically but in reality you walk away with an experience which is unparalleled to anything else. What did you learn in your marathon training cycle? Do you have any top tips? Have you signed up for another race? Let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter.