There are plenty of training plans available on line and from qualified coaches, but here’s one called, ‘how not to train for a marathon’.
At the beginning of the year my Dutch friend, Eva, was visiting and told me she was going to run the Amsterdam half marathon. My daughter had just left for a one year uni exchange to study at the University of Copenhagen and I knew I’d be going to visit her. So I decided to co-ordinate my visit to Brianna with the half marathon and run it with Eva.
Ten weeks before the event, when my holiday and flights were all booked I went online to enter the half. There was a drop down menu and it only showed 8km or a full marathon. I refreshed the page. Nothing changed. I shut down the website and opened it back up. Again there were only 2 options. I stared at the screen willing the half marathon option to appear. I then looked again at the website and saw the words ‘Sold Out’ splashed across the half marathon sign.
It was then that I realised that in 10 weeks I would be running a marathon. I was not going to travel half way around the world to run 8km. I messaged a running coach and asked if he thought I could do it. He replied with ‘anything is possible’. And so I entered my first ever marathon.
I was running 4-5 times a week, but with no real purpose other than to keep fit and with maximum distances of around 12km. I needed to get serious. My running coach put together a program for me that would get me ready to tackle a marathon but with no pressure of time.
I decided if I was going to run this marathon I was going to enjoy it. I was going to take photos of Amsterdam and have some fun along the way.
Three weeks after entering I had to head to the US for three weeks for work. I had to edit my running program even more. I found some places to run and continued an abbreviated marathon training program. I managed one three hour run but didn’t take any gels and only a small amount of water which made me realise I really needed to be more prepared.
I came home for two weeks and continued training before heading to Denmark and Norway to complete my training.
One week before the marathon I embarked on a 9 hour trek to Trolltunga, which included mountain biking and climbing both up and down a sheer cliff face using a harness and carabiners.
The day after I could hardly move. My quads were smashed and I discovered muscles that I didn’t know existed.
I moved like tin man for three days. At one point I was writing something and I dropped my pen. I just stood and stared at it for a couple of minutes before plucking up the courage to embrace the pain as I bent down to pick it up.
By race day I was starting to feel better. The marathon didn’t start until 9:30am which is quite unusual for an Australian marathon, but apparently not for European ones. When I picked up my race pack the day before I checked that the tram closest to my apartment to was still running. And apparently it was.
I walked to the tram stop and there were about ten other people waiting. We waited and more people joined. We waited some more and there was still no sign of the tram. It wasn’t until someone walked past us and said the tram wasn’t coming because the road ahead was blocked that we realised we hadn’t seen any trams in the twenty minutes we’d been waiting.
The group, who were from all parts of the world, started to walk, we didn’t really know where but we headed in the direction of the Olympic stadium which is where the marathon was starting and finishing from. After about a 3 kilometre walk I managed to squeeze onto a tram. It took us to the start line but was so cramped that when it stopped no one could see where we were and so no one opened the doors for about another minute.
We lined up in our areas inside the stadium and the marathon started. It took over 13 minutes for me to even pass the start line, luckily that is not added to my time.
I was off. My first ever marathon. I trained across five countries and three continents in ten weeks and whilst my training had not been ideal I decided to make the best of a bad situation and capture Amsterdam by foot over the next 42 kilometres.
Over 100 photos and just under 5 hours later I finished. Even though I may have never doubted finishing I still had to chant some mantras to stop me from walking – something along the lines of ‘just keep going’, ‘one foot in front of the other’. To be honest, stopping 100 times to take photos helped too.
Whilst you won’t find this plan being used by any elite runners looking to break any records, or even being used by the average person to run a marathon, it worked for me. I ran my first marathon and had fun!