Why running 10 marathons isn’t the real achievement

Earlier today I finished the 10th and final episode of my slightly unusual running streak.

10 marathons in 10 days was a target I had set for myself, almost arbitrarily, as it sounded tough yet I knew that it was physically possible.

When I was planning the challenge just a few months ago I decided in a rather gung ho fashion that I wanted to do something that had a high probability of causing pain – both physical and mental.

Talking about that kind of thing in the warm cosy environment of a coffee shop is always easier than actually riding the waves of tormenting agony out there on the roads.

Apart from one low point a few days ago I thought I’d got away with (dare I say it) finding it easier than I’d thought.

Until today

After a 3:55 marathon yesterday I woke up this morning with the same comforting but suspicious lack of aches and pains in my body.

Knowing that I was going to be ‘taking it steady’ today I felt completely confident I was in for an easy victory lap of my Thame-based circuit.

But no, that wasn’t to be.

About 10 miles in I realised that the moderate tightness I’ve had a constant companion in my left thigh since Day 4 was gradually getting worse.

By the half way point I was about a 7 out of 10 in pain and couldn’t shake my leg out like I could usually do. Every footstep was becoming an excruciating challenge of determination in itself, and it didn’t get any better.

In fact it got worse. A lot worse.


Surprise guest: my dad!

I limped on for about 2 more hours with gritted teeth and a silent turmoil raging inside.

The company I had was amazing (including my dad who had unexpectedly turned up at the start!) and didn’t mind at all as I silently tramped along, patiently waiting to come out the other side of my dark tunnel.

I came to the end of the 3rd lap still with another 11 miles to go and I’d have given anything to have stopped.

Just stopped.

I don’t know what kept me going, but I thought about all the mind-hardening strategies I’ve learned and used over the last 10 days and tried my hardest to refocus.

I somehow managed to rally around to record a short piece of footage on my iPhone at about mile 21, and as I replay it I can see my mood is low, my voice is quiet and downbeat and even my posture is suffering (last 56 seconds of this clip)

The addition to the running posse of more cheerleaders from local Aylesbury running club On The Run as well as some other familiar faces lifted my spirits and the pace picked for the final lap, though the pain still continued to stab away relentlessly.


Police: helpful (photo credit Nick White)

I knew that I was going to be in trouble later on with that as I could no longer bend my left knee but hey, there was only 1 more 5 mile circuit to go before I’d finished my epic challenge.

Coming into Thame High Street and being met by a police escort who had closed the road off for me was a nice touch, and the crowds at the finish melted away my physical pain.

My greatest achievement wasn’t running 10 marathons in 10 days.

It was surrounding myself with the people who enabled me to embark on such a self-indulgent voyage of discovery. My family, friends, the local community and my online support.

People have told me that what I’ve done has inspired them.

I’m not interested in inspiration, I’m interested in ‘inspiraction’.

Yes, that is a made up word, but without the addition of those last 2 syllables all you have is a slightly warm fuzzy feeling inside of you.

Change happens when you put yourself in the firing line. Knowing there are likely to be hard times ahead, unknown sacrifices to be made, barriers to break through, and then doing it anyway.

Whatever 10in10 means to you, I hope that you’ve enjoyed being a part of my journey.

I couldn’t have done it without you.