The sub-3 paradox

On completing my first marathon in 2016, after the finish line elation and overriding need to become horizontal had subsided, I was left with one clear emotion…I was sad. Sad that the journey was over, sad that I didn’t have anything to get up for the following week. I felt rudderless, with no goal off in the distance to guide me. Within the sadness, however, lay the nugget of wisdom that I am only three years later beginning to understand…..

The times really don’t matter, the meaning lies in the process, the lifestyle, the grind.

To ascribe such deep meaning to something that lasts between 3-5 hours on a given day, thus negating 3-4 months worth of pleasurable activity and growth dependant on the outcome, is utter madness!

I think it was less than a week later that I entered Warsaw Marathon, in September of 2016. I freely admit it was a knee jerk reaction, my mind really couldn’t handle the void left in the wake of London. Once the original fear of ‘can I actually run this far?’ had been quashed, times started to enter the equation.

At this point, a sub 3 hour marathon wasn’t on my radar, that was way off in another realm of possibility, a goal so vastly beyond my reach that I promised if I ever got there I would throw my shoes in the nearest river and retire on the spot, how things change.

Over the course of the next two years, I slowly chipped away at my pb, during this time there were several absolute stinkers (my stinker rate is currently at around 70%, which shows what I know!) Paris, Barcelona, Dublin and in particular Berlin, where I felt I had done absolutely everything I could, knocked out an 18 minute pb and came up agonisingly short in 03:02:09. If you can’t do it on the fastest course in the world, you don’t belong in the club.

As I started to come closer to the three hour mark, everything zoned in on that goal, probably to an unhealthy extent. I was envious of all those who had achieved it, impatient with those who didn’t understand it’s significance. I would chastise myself for missing a run, dissect every run and critique myself harshly. All in all, a very unsustainable and miserable mindset.

Sub 3 is a curious beast, it takes a lot of dedication and determination to get there, but on arrival, you are in a strange no-mans-land of being at the fast end of the masses, but still a million miles away from the elites…..

Where it all came together.

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