When I was much younger I could run for miles and miles. Somewhere in the intervening years I lost the ability, along with many others. Today I am too heavy, too creaky, too unfit. I am not doing myself any favours but I am slowly relearning what it is to run, to be able and fit and quick. It will take time but I am getting there. Tomorrow thousands upon thousands of people will take part in the London Marathon. The vast majority of them will be doing it for charity, a smaller number competitively, virtually all for the challenge.
It is no small thing this, running 26.2 miles. As a person who is re-educating his body how to cope with running 3 miles, then 6, then 10 with 13 in sight for October, I can tell you this with some authority. At the moment I cannot conceive of what it is to run a marathon.
In many ways it requires the same mental strength for a person who is starting out to run 1 mile, and keep at it, building all the time, as it does for someone setting out to run 26.2. The same barriers of body and will, the same grit and stubbornness, the same demands upon self. The same determination to keep going, whether it is to the next half mile or the next ten, the same joy at a job well done, a run well run.
And yet there is a world of difference, there is 26.2 miles, there is the knowledge that this is the pinnacle of running, to achieve this, to get there and run mile after mile after mile, to hurt and doubt and to win through.
I am in awe of those who will be there, professional or amateur, charity raiser or self challenger. I am honoured to know some of them, and their dedication and strength has been an inspiration to me these last few weeks. Joanna (@stillawake) and Becky (@becky_rtw) and the countless others running tomorrow, I salute you. Have a great run, have a great time and enjoy every moment. One day I hope to be good enough to there with you.
And for those of you starting, or struggling along with me at the beginning, good fortune and good running to you too. Today, after all, is a glorious day for running, as is tomorrow, as is every day.