“Be strong you never know who you are inspiring”- Unknown
By watching others I got into running. A friend of mine had completed the Virgin London Marathon in 2013. Seeing his social media posts, and respecting how much hard work he had put in, with regards to his fundraising efforts, as well as the amount of training required to finish this type of race safely. I felt inspired and had a vision of what it would feel like to not only take on this challenge, but what it would feel like after crossing the finish line.
I had a preference towards walking rather than running long distances, however when listening to others experiences, and by watching what they had to put in, it sparked my decision to finally find out how to take up the challenge of running the London Marathon.
I heard on the radio that a ballot would be happening for next year’s marathon in May and that ballot entries would be open to enter online in the early hours of the morning. I went online and signed up to the ballot for the 2014 Virgin London Marathon. As part of the agreement for signing up for a place I had to agree to choose 5 different charities. A few months went by and to be honest I did not even think I would get a place through the ballot as these places are very difficult to get. I have spoken to quite a few runners, and some of them have tried multiple times and have failed to get a place.
When I received a magazine in the post saying that I had gotten a place. It felt great! I could not believe it, but I felt motivated having realised the hard work starts now and that I have something to work for.
I then had to choose either 1 charity or more as part of who I wish to run for. My chosen charities were Parkinson’s UK due to my Father being a current sufferer for over 20 years as well as Asthma UK. I have Asthma as well, as do many other friends and family members.
The build up to the run was great, I knew the pressure was on as I am not only running to take on this challenge, but I am also running for my chosen charities. I had lost over 2 stone while running 5 times a week in the build up to the marathon, and on the week before the marathon I managed to weigh in at 9 ½ stone, something which I had never thought I could do as the last time I weighed in at that weight was when I was 20 years old (at that time 9 years ago)
The actual run went well, it was tiring at times as running at that distance is not only physically challenging, but also mentally challenging, but the crowd keep you in it, hand out snacks and drinks, and the atmosphere was amazing! Thankfully the weather was sunny and did not rain. While running this race, I had mixed emotions, I felt nervous, excited, eager to finish safely, but happy to take part.
Having completed the London Marathon successfully, this kick-started my love and respect for running. My spark became my burning passion.
What I learnt over time is that no runner started off by being a runner, it takes time and dedication.
As a runner you have to expect both good days as well as off days as it takes time, but you must never give up! I had to be patient and tried different running routes until I found a few that I enjoyed.
You will have some aches and pains but you must always respect the distance whether it is 5k or more. I therefore realised that all of these reasons are all of what can be applied for not only in running but in life. Another lesson learnt is that running can be a great reliever of stress and helps to keep your mind at rest, as well as keeping the body in shape. After the marathon I felt encouraged to sign up for more races of varying distance such as 5k, 10k, and half marathons in order to build up my experience as well as my confidence in running, and setting goals. This included beating my best times and in general aiming to better myself.
After 5 years of running, I decided after constant conversations with neighbours as well as friends and family, to sign up for a Leadership in Running Fitness Course (LiRF). When I complete this course, I will become an official licensed running coach who will be in a position to help others get into running safely.
To conclude, I feel that in some ways it was destined that getting a surprise place in the ballot for the London Marathon helped to not only open doors for a “running career” but also to have the confidence now to help others who may not like running to show and teach them that running can be fun, as well as passing on my knowledge that will hopefully stand them in good stead in the present and future.
I take group walk and outdoor gym sessions on Tuesdays from One Tree Hill to Barham Park, and take group runs and outdoor gym sessions to Barham Park on Thursdays
Please check out my website www.andyraju.com for further information.
Thanks & Regards,
Run with Andy