26 Oct 2018

3 important lessons that training for my first marathon at 44 has taught me

In just under 2 weeks’ time I will be getting on a plane to run the New York Marathon.  I’ve never run a marathon before. I’m a 44-year-old woman, and I have 2 kids. I run my own business.  “What the hell are you doing?” I have often been asked. Over the last 10 months of training, I have asked that same question myself! But as the race draws closer, I feel I understand the answer to this question better than ever. Here’s why.

I desire adventure more than I ever have. (I know I’m not alone. In our research, we saw that 78% of 40+ women had an appetite to explore and have new experiences). Like many women, my life is jam-packed with fighting priorities that are all important – children, SuperHuman, while making time for my relationships & myself. With so much going on, adventure and excitement hardly get a look in. Yet training for the marathon has given me a little window of adventure in my life. In particular, trail running across the Sussex countryside has given me a sense of freedom and exploration that I crave.

It’s been useful to have a big, scary deadline to aim towards. I have had to put myself first and prioritise running (even when the weather is crappy, or I’m tired, and I don’t fancy it). The upside is that running is great for thinking time. It’s fantastic for seeing new perspectives and having new ideas. It’s shown me that I don’t need to be at my desk to be productive.

As I get older and I watch my body change, I am curious to see what it can still do. What are my body’s limits? I can’t do anything about getting older I can do something about how I choose to get older.  Marathon training for the last 10 months has left me stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been in my life. If you had told me, even 10 years ago that this would be the case, I would have been shocked.

I’ve also learned some valuable lessons about achieving my goals. A decade ago I would have thought that the only way to succeed was to push through any pain. This would have stopped me from even trying. But at my age, this would have been a fast track to injury, so really wasn’t an option. Now, I know that the exact opposite is true. The reason why I am fit and able to do this challenge is because I listen carefully to what my body needs and respond to it, even if this means stopping.

With 10 days to go until the “big day” I already feel proud of what I’ve achieved and learnt about myself. I’m not expecting any great time (finishing in one piece will make it a PB for me!). I know that even if it doesn’t go to plan on the day, the last 10 months will have been worth it because I’ve learned to so much about myself. It just makes me wonder what else I can achieve?

Sandra is running the NY marathon for Macmillan. If you would like to sponsor her, please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sandra-peat