Four weeks to the London Marathon

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you’ll have seen that I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for the MS Society. Following a depressive episode in 2017 I needed a way to feel like Antony again – and for me that meant cycling across America. But as one of reasons I’d ended up being depressed was a work situation that saw me working home alone most days of the week I was massively out of shape – I’d gained several clothing sizes in a short period of time and I wasn’t able to run half a mile to the train station. Another cycling adventure would dilute my fundraising and so I committed to running the London Marathon.

I should state right now that at this point I hadn’t done a single training run. My first run was with my cousin Helen who persuaded me to do a parkrun – and I spent two weeks in bed afterwards! For the last 16 months I’ve been doing my own version of couch to 5k – but in my case it was part of a couch to marathon. Last April I ran my first 5 without stopping. I then ran my first 10k, my first 10 mile – but had to miss a planned half marathon due to illness. I finished last year by consolidating my fitness and then in January began a custom training plan to get me to the start line of the London Marathon.

To begin with, it went well. I slowly overtook my training plan. I ran a half marathon two weeks early. I was stretching, foam rolling, and getting sports massage. I touched my toes again! I was feeling good about my progress and was aiming for a 4 hour 30 finish – not breaking any records, but still a decent and honourable time when you consider that I started from nowhere.

About a month ago, things started going wrong. Firstly emotionally, as my mum – the reason I’m running this for the MS Society – found a new place to live. She moves 11 days before the London Marathon. I’m an only child and so supporting this process – choosing, reviewing, travelling, packing – has largely fallen on my shoulders. All this at a time when her MS has accelerated it’s attack on her body has been tough enough.

Shortly after this I noticed a small niggle in my lower back. I’ve got a history of back problems and poor posture but this is normally in my upper back. I dialled back my training for a week and booked a physio appointment. Busses never come at once, and neither do problems. Before I could see the physio I caught a cold, taking time off work and missing two weeks of training to avoid prolonging it.

Last weekend I went for my first long run in three weeks. I should have been at about 18 miles but planned to get to 13 and see how I got on. I made no more than 10 before I had to stop with a growing pain in my left leg. When I tried to get off the train my entire leg had seized up, and it was still painful to flex the knee the next day. I booked another physio and it turns out this was an extension of the lower back pain. It wasn’t enough to stop me dropping out but I had to fix it. So this week I’ve had more massage, done physio exercises several times a day, and cross trained rather than running.

Toady I went for a run and managed 8k before I had to stop with the same pain. Frankly, I’m scared. For over a year I’ve been so sure that I can do this – not that it would be easy, but that I could run the London Marathon. Now, with two weeks to go until I’m meant to taper my training to allow my body to relax and repair before the marathon I’m four weeks behind my training and not even able to run 1/4 of a marathon. I’m a stubborn git – and if my mum can’t quit her MS there’s no way in hell that I’m not going to do every single thing I can to make that finish line. Ironically my fundraising has taken off, and over the last week I’ve raised another £200 (oh hello there link to my fundraising page – www.justgiving.com/antonyjcbutcherlondonmarathon). It’s one of the few things that has kept me going – and I keep joking that the harder I find the marathon, the better value for money sponsoring me is!

But this light hearted humour mostly exists to distract me from a very real fear that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. I’m much more worried about this one day of marathon effort than I am about cycling across the whole of America. As so much of running a marathon is mental preparation this self-doubt could undermine the whole endeavour.

So, I’m going to end with a selfish request. I need your help to get to the start line. Firstly – please like, comment, and share my posts – so many times Facebook’s algorithms mean they don’t appear on peoples timelines and your engagement can overcome that. I know I shouldn’t care but writing a long and personal FB post only to have it seen by 7 people really puts me off my stride. Secondly, please keep on encouraging and supporting me. Your kind words help me remember why I’m doing this frankly silly endeavour. Thirdly – keep sponsoring and donating. The money I’m raising will make a real difference to the work of the MS Society and people living with MS. Finally – and this is the big ask – if you live in or near London I would love to see your face in the crowd. Unfortunately my wife is unable to be there as she is attending a close friends wedding, and despite looking into the logistics closely it just isn’t practical for my mum to be there. So at the moment I don’t think anyone I know will be there. I know my head, and I know that this will really bring me down on the day. Don’t go overboard, but if you were able to get there easily I cannot tell you how much seeing your face would mean to me. And if you can’t be there I hope to Facebook Live some of the key moments – if you could keep an eye out for these and send me some positive messages that would also be lovely.

And finally finally – a huge thanks to everyone who has already supported me in some way – either by sponsoring me, helping me train, or sending me words of encouragement. I can’t name you all but know I wouldn’t be able to do this without you on my side ❤


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