I’m no stranger to being asked a question that starts with why as I’ve been asked why this and why that many times in my lifetime, this range from why are you training to be a personal trainer when you’ve got a good career in the food industry? Why are you moving to Lincolnshire? Why have you got tattoos? And the list goes on!! Most of the time I tend to answer with WHY NOT?? And the most recent question is why are you running a marathon and yes the answer I gave was why not!! (Keep a look out for a post later this year which ponders the why questions some more!!)
But there is more to it than that, every since my early adulthood I’ve struggle with low self-belief, this might be surprising to some as I know I probably come across as being quite confident (I’m very good at putting on my “game face”) but i’m not!! Outwardly I might seem confident but inside I’m riddled with self doubt and question whether I’m capable of doing what I set out to do and constantly telling myself that I’m failing, I never feel like I reach that bar I’ve set for myself!!
I’m constantly setting myself challenges to try to prove to myself that I am capable of achieving things and probably many people will think that I’ve already achieved some amazing things in life but to me I’m still don’t have that inner belief that I can achieve success!!
I’m closer to this point than I’ve ever been as over the last six months I’ve been working with a couple of people to help me understand why I think and behave the way I do and how I can change/adapt my thoughts and behaviors to allow myself to believe and achieve the successes that I want to.
One of these is running a marathon, it’s something that has always been in the back of my mind ever since I worked for Unilever who at the time sponsored the London Marathon with Flora but never had the courage to apply!! So when I saw a twitter post saying they were entering the ballot for the London Marathon this year, I thought well I could do that too!!
Unfortunately I didn’t get a place at London but was offered a place at Edinburgh instead and it only took a nanosecond for me to decide to take up this place. Edinburgh is my favourite city in the UK and I loved walking around it when I did the Moonwalk there 5 years ago so it was time I returned and this time run around it.
I was lucky in some respects as I wasn’t starting from scratch with my training as since spring 2014 I’ve been running regularly around my estate (not long distances, an hour at most) and also doing short sprint runs as part of CrossFit and interval training. I am the fittest/healthiest I’ve ever been in my life so it’s now or never and as my 40th year approaches it’s a good thing to tick the bucket list.
So I quickly got up to double figures and this is when it started to really get hard for me, having only ever done short runs I wasn’t really sure how to fuel myself for these longer runs and also finding places to run!! Running around my estate was fine but eventually I knew I had to take the plunge and run down the A15; a major trunk road into Lincoln city with lorries barreling past you at 50mph!! Not a pleasant experience especially knowing that to get home I’d have to run back up it!! But the reward for doing so was to be able to run around the bail area of Lincoln, which is undeniably a beautiful place to run around (I know I’m biased), I’ve seen a different side to Lincoln in doing these training runs and found pretty little streets that I didn’t know existed before now. I also got to experience beautiful views like the one below on one very unexpectedly snowy April morning!!
After a few disastrous runs between 14-18 mile mark I really didn’t believe I could actually do a marathon, by the end of these runs I could barely walk, in tears and not really knowing what I was doing so wrong…
So I decided like I do with most things in life to do it my own way, many people had told me carb load before my long training runs to build up my glycogen stores in my muscles to stop me hitting the wall but that was exactly what was happening, for the last 18 months I’ve exercised on an empty stomach and had easily been doing 2 hour runs on little more than some pre-workout and then fuelling when I finished so I guessed my body was used to using my fat stores as fuel rather than glycogen stores from carb loading so I stopped doing this straight away, I also decided to run to the gym as my finishing point too which meant that I didn’t have the dreaded 3 mile A15 to run at the end of a long run, it also meant I had some friendly faces to look forward to seeing when I got there.
But marathon training is not just about the physical stuff, it’s more about what’s going on in your head!! I know from doing CrossFit for a couple of years now that if your head said you can do it then you’re body will deliver, but if you have any doubt about a lift for example you’re about to do that it’s likely you will fail that lift, I also learnt from attending “Unleash the power within” Anthony Robin’s amazing weekend event in March 2015 that you can change your physiology just with your thoughts so some how I needed to get my head in a different place and tell myself a different story, the way I did this was just to focus on finishing the marathon rather than racing it, telling myself it was ok to walk a few steps every so often (mainly because I can’t run and drink at the same time!!) and that the training is the hardest part of the experience and if I could get the training done then I could do the real thing.
I’m doing this marathon for purely selfish reason, to prove to myself that I AM capable of achieving anything I put my mind too!! I’ve paid for my place outright so I don’t have any pressure to raise a certain amount of money but I’ve decided to raise some money for three very deserving organisations:
The British Heart Foundation (https://www.bhf.org.uk): This is for Kendo Hau, who left this world too soon on 19th Nov 2013, one of the most genuine kind hearted person I’ve ever met and is missed everyday (think he’s even been with me on my training runs as titanium has played every time I’ve trained)!! The BHF’s vision is a world in which people do not die prematurely or suffer from heart disease.
Mind – The mental health charity (http://www.mind.org.uk): There are many people I know who have suffered, are suffering or lost their battle with mental health illnesses so a cause close to my heart. We live in a wired stressful world and any one of us could suffer from mental ill health at sometime in our lives so this is a cause that needs support. My thoughts will be with Matt B who lost the battle just a few months ago.
Think2Speak (http://www.think2speak.com/): A community interest company set up by two friends Lizzie and Naomi to help young people deal with challenging issues they might face as they grow up, their vision is to enable education settings, and organisations working with young people, to feel fully equipped to handle a range of issues young people may have, Think2Speak will enable young people to feel empowered to make life decisions confidently, We will also help parents to feel confident in supporting their young people.
So it’s time for a few thank you to friends who have offered advice and support!!
Helen W and Nicky B for helping me understand how to do my training, fueling and tapering and for the supportive words too xxx
Nicola C who ran with me on an awful 16 miler where I’d gone out to fast and was unable to do much more than shuffle for the last few miles, she kindly gave me a lift home after I recovered movement in my legs, you’re a star xxx
Lana C for standing on a towpath in cold wet weather waiting for me to appear along it to do the last few miles with me so I wasn’t running on my own, for making my porridge at the gym when I was completely spent and dropping me at home too!! You’ve been an angel xx
And all the friends on Instagram and Facebook who have send me supportive words of encouragement when I’ve posted my training runs and pictures.
I’m going to Edinburgh on my own so my plan is to print all your words of support on my t-shirt so I know you will be with me in spirit, if you are a business you can sponsor a space on my leggings!!
So get donating here: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/rachel-linstead-1
If not, then just give me a thought and send some positive energy on Sun 29th May when I’ll be lining up with thousands of other runners hoping to complete the 26.2 mile course so that I can get to the finish line and have a well deserved pint!!
And even though I’m writing this before I’ve run the marathon, I will state now that I will never run a marathon again!! But next year I’m planning on doing the Moonwalk’s Three Land Challenge so watch this space…