Virtual London Marathon 2020
A keen runner, I have always found that looking after my physical health has, in turn, a positive impact on my mental health and well-being. A keen half-marathoner, I completed my first marathon on 20 May 2018 and swore to myself that I never needed to put myself through this kind of challenge ever again - unless, of course, I gained a place in the London Marathon (which always inspires me and brings me to tears each year).
In my first year as Head at Oldway, I found out that I had gained a ballot place in the London Marathon 2020 and spent the autumn term 2019 ensuring I had a sound level of fitness before starting my training. Throughout January and February 2020, I started my training plan. Completing training runs on dark mornings before school, during stormy weather and flooding, I stuck to my training plan which aimed to get me close to my goal of a 4-hour marathon. The plan consisted of easy runs (for recovery), long runs (for mileage), intervals and hill training (for posture) and steady runs (for stamina). By the time that schools closed to the majority of pupils in March 2020, it seemed unlikely that the original April race would go ahead and it was not surprising that the London Marathon 2020 was postponed until October.
Having a training plan and a goal meant that I had a focus during those exceptional spring and summer terms in school. It gave me some 'me time', some thinking time, an opportunity for daily activity, a time to be out in the fresh air, and it also ensured that I focused on my diet too so that I was fuelled effectively for each run. Having trained at the start of the year in wind and rain, the summer months bought different challenges, coping with the heat. By the time I started my 3-week taper mid-September, having welcomed all of our children safely back to school, I was confident that I had trained well and could complete the distance. Running the London Marathon 2020 as a virtual race meant that I could choose my own route: run the roads and tracks that I knew well. It also meant that my husband, friends and family could join me at different parts of the race - and I'm not sure I could have completed it on the day without them!
2020 has been such a challenging year for so many. Coping with lockdown, managing the huge changes for all us for working in schools, managing the needs and hardships of children, staff and their families, coping with the loss of social interaction and personal freedoms, grieving for those much-missed due to COVID-19, changing the ways in which we work and trying to support those in need as best we can has meant 2020 has been a year like no other. I think that's why the marathon (and the medal!) means so much. Not only did I complete a marathon, I completed it in 2020, in my first year as Head, during a pandemic. The video, below, shows some highlights from the day which I shared with our children at school the day after the race.
While immensely pleased and proud of my achievement and finish time (4:03:34), I'm almost pleased I missed the 4-hour mark. It gives me something to aim for when I train for London Marathon in April 2022!