It’s just under two weeks until the Virgin Money London Marathon 2019. Runners will be tapering and fussing over diet tweaks: caffeine depletion, fat loading, carb cutting…the advice is boggling. It’s too late to try to squeeze in any more long runs, but quality training sessions with generous recovery times are the order of the day.
I am so jealous it hurts. Choosing not to run this year jarred almost as much as the Achilles tendonopathy that finally defeated me in January. Since then, I have tried to throw myelf into other, supposedly endorphin-producing activities:
- swimming (too wet, deep end scary)
- spinning (too much indoors)
- the gym. Sigh.
- cycling (that’s how I commute, so it’s not special, and it is trafficky)
- yoga (a bit annoyingly spiritual and I tend to nod off)
Fortunately Physiotherapist Number 5 understands my pain. That’s because he is a pain specialist. He’s interested in ‘holistic ‘top down’ models, addressing health care inequality… tendinopathy and in particular shockwave therapy.’ He also has a huge and luxuriant beard and looks like a friendly viking. I’m hooked. True to his biog, he sent me a brilliantly holistic appraisal of my woes after our initial meeting. From the gloom I’m experiencing because I’m not running, through related sleep disturbance, irritation and feelings of inadequacy, he’s got my number. He put me on a ‘get back into running programme’, explaining that my grumbling left Achilles needs to be stressed a little over time, so that it doesn’t keep reactively flooding me with red alerts every time I attempt a run. I’m halfway through the programme. It’s a bit like a Couch to 5k. I’m following it to the minute and I’m feeling a little more positive every day.
My more buoyant mood coincided with a couple of pleasing offers of writing work, and a perky little email from a millennial at BBC Radio 1, who thought it would be fun to have Marathon Gran advise young Jamie Borthwick, of Eastenders fame, prior to his first attempt at the London Marathon, to raise funds and awareness for the charity Dementia Revolution. He, and seven of his cast colleagues from the soap opera will be running on 28 April, on behalf of a former colleague whom they love dearly – Barbara Windsor – whose dementia diagnosis in 2014 was made public four years later by her husband Scott Mitchell, who’s leading the self-styled Barbara’s Revolutionaries.
Jamie and I met up at Tower Bridge last Saturday, for a Radio 1 Newsbeat recording during which Marathon Gran (thankfully not quite old enough to be his gran, even though the lad is younger than my sons) dispensed marathon training wisdom and London Marathon course tips. As I described the highs and lows of running that beloved route (I’ve either run, or volunteered at, the London Marathon for the past 10 years) I felt the old excitement mount. I wasn’t exaggerating when I wrote, in my script for the Magic of the London Marathon tour for Secret London Runs, that I love marathon day more than my birthday or Christmas. And this year, even though I can barely run a mile without pain, I can still derive a vicarious pleasure supporting friends, relatives and soap stars, and be of good cheer… at the most wonderful time of the year.