With a Little Help from my Friends

My 26.2 mile journey – By Kat Fletcher

Kat’s Strava

Running 26.2 miles is a daunting prospect for anyone. Running London, Manchester or Bristol is a scary feat to undertake for anyone even when surrounded by runners all focussed on their own race and performance. But to run 26.2 miles by yourself because Covid-19 has put a massive stopper on all races during 2020 is a challenge not to be reckoned with. Whether you’re Mo Farah or Mo Mowlam, it’s going to hurt and you need that support network to help you through it.

This was the second time that I have ran a marathon distance. The first time was a charity event which involved 10k laps where you could do as many as you wanted. Essentially you would stop every lap for food and drink, as well as the call of nature if needed, then off you go again if you so wished. I didn’t train for this event I just gave it a go as there was no pressure, that was back in 2018.

Kat before setting off on the run

Fast forward two years and I thought I would give it another go. I was meant to do Manchester in April 2020 and I felt my training had gone really well, but then I injured my ankle and that put a stop to all my training. This was devastating as I had worked so hard and for it all to come to an abrupt end was really upsetting. I got my ankle seen too and managed too gently get back into running again. I worked really hard at the training again and managed to build up the fitness to make 22 miles!! Then Covid-19 hit and all races started to drop by the way side, but because this was something out of my control it made it less devastating than the injured ankle, but still upsetting none the less.

Lockdown brought it’s own struggle’s as I couldn’t run as much as I wanted. However, with every problem you just have to find a solution, so I found myself a second hand treadmill to keep me going. Luckily by the time training needed to begin for my marathon restrictions had eased so I could get out running properly again on the road and trails. As the mileage increased I started to struggle but I managed to get up early, get out running and fit miles in before I met friends at 8am to do their distance, which meant I could still get all my mileage in whilst running with friends at the same time. All in all, I did enjoy the training but it felt so tiring overall as I had been training most of the year on and off due to injury and Covid-19.

Kat with support runner Tanya

Building up to marathon day my lovely friend Tanya Heaslip (also an RRC member) said she would support me for my whole run on the day. I nearly broke into tears, it meant so much too me that she would give up her time and energy to get up early and help me through this challenge. Added to the fact that Tanya hadn’t even trained for a marathon made it an even bigger gesture of support and friendship and something I will always be grateful for. This is what being part of a running club is all about. A support network, or community of like-minded people who just want to help each other. They know what it means to run marathons, or any distance for that matter and runners want to see other runners succeed in their challenges.

Post marathon

Marathon day was tough, the route that we chose included many ridiculous hills, getting lost towards the end and of course 26.2 miles is enough for anyone. But facing all this together and sharing this experience with Tanya helped keep my mind off the struggles and I got through it, back home six hours later. Marathon completed, 2020 goal achieved and it meant that I finally got to use my marathon mug!

My mug, finally out the box!

Join a running club, make friends, make goals and achieve them together. Joining a running club and meeting like-minded people is possibly one of the best things you could ever do to help improve your running.

Edited by Ian Hawley

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