Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions

Getting Fitter

A Special Idiot

What Next?“Any idiot can run. It takes a special kind of idiot to run a marathon.” – FB meme posted to my wall by the lovely Jackie B.

Photo courtesy of my friend and neighbour Laura, who came out to Mumbai with us last week to cheer us on. The bit behind me is pretty much the finish line.

So, I’ve run a marathon, a week ago today. Plenty of time to come to my senses. I set myself a goal, and made it. Nothing left to prove really. Who would ever want to do something like that twice?


I think I do, actually, and I’m not alone. While some of the team were swearing, before and immediately after the race, that they would never again put themselves through the ordeal of training for and running a marathon, that lasted about forty-eight hours. I already knew I was hooked, but it was reassuring how quickly loose plans started for the next one.

I’d sort of decided already to try Singapore in December – I could combine that easily enough with a family break, and give Eva some theme park time in the same trip. Mumbai put me off a little – the heat in Singapore is a bit higher than Mumbai, and I suffered badly  in the Indian sun during the final hour while slamming myself against the Wall. So when Andy (who definitely, definitely wasn’t going to do this again, under any circumstances, as long as he beat five hours) mentioned that the Tokyo marathon runs in February… well, okay. I’ll swap out a Singapore for a Tokyo, no problem. Turns out my ladywife has always wanted to go to Japan.

It might not work out. Tokyo is one of the Big Six international marathons (along with Boston, London, New York, Berlin, an Chicago), and oversubscribes every year. For every place on the run, there are ten applications. A bit of a lottery then, but worth applying for while I’m just about near enough to justify going. If that fails, Singapore’s still sitting there, as is Dubai, which runs in January. Whatever. I’ll find something, even if it’s Mumbai again. At the start of 2014, I’ll be running another marathon – hopefully with at least some of the same team – and I’ll make sure I’m on the start line of the Delhi half marathon again later this year.

My goal for each race last time round was just to finish. This year, I’ve got times to beat. To be honest, it shouldn’t be that hard. My times for both the half and the full marathon are pretty woeful, so I’ve set a reasonably low bar to hurdle. In September I did a 2:30 half marathon, while I finished in 5:21 at Mumbai. My aim this year is to take half an hour off the half, and fifty minutes off the full. 2:00 hours, and 4:30 hours, respectively.

Training starts next Sunday – I’m still resting aches and pains from last week. Not running yet (though there will be some comparatively light running, compared to what I’ve been doing), but twelve weeks of cross fit stuff. While my legs are in great shape, the rest of me has fallen considerably behind, and I felt the lack of fitness all over the place last Sunday. My calves and thighs got tired, sure, but they never actually hurt during the run. My back and shoulders though? Yeah. They hurt a lot. Hardly a surprise, my training was all running, and nothing in support of it. This year, I’m going to take a broader approach, and I can’t wait to get started.

The week of enforced rest is also part of the fitness plan. I need to take another stab at quitting smoking, or the above is pretty meaningless (and hey, if my lungs work I reckon I’ll be halfway to meeting my target times before I even start running!), and the coming week is as good a time as any. I nearly made it last year, twice, and I’m quite optimistic. Cheesy though it is, running forty-two kilometres really does change how you look at yourself and what you can actually achieve.

Fingers crossed.

Before I wrap, a final thank you to everybody who sponsored us on the run. We made our target by the skin of our teeth (appropriate for a marathon). The figure isn’t quite complete, as we also raised some cash that hasn’t been added to the overall amount yet, but 101% of £3500 is incredibly satisfying. It will be passed to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity as soon as the final sums are done. You all rock.

Currently reading (novel): Faction Paradox: Of The City Of The Saved, Philip Purser-Hallard

Currently reading (short stories): A Blink of the Screen, Terry Pratchett

Currently reading (non-fiction): Richard III and the Murder In the Tower, Peter A. Hancock

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