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Column: Marathon Nan

Aged 51 and a granny of six, Jude Clarke is running her first London Marathon this year. As she tells Velvet in her monthly diary, training isn’t going *quite* as planned. . .

By now I’d hoped to be writing about the joys of The Training Plan. The exciting feeling of progress as, each week, you gradually clock up more miles, watching that 26.2 mile target – a target that once seemed so impossible – become gradually more and more achievable. The toned muscles! The weight loss! The sense of achievement!

Well, thanks to one pesky little bone in my foot, none of that has *yet* happened…

Instead, I’m nursing a stress fracture in my metatarsal(you know: me and David Beckham – only the elite sportspeople…), limping around with a big boot on my foot and definitely not doing any running.

Jude Clarke, Marathon Nan - Training (even while on holiday) (25063403)
Jude Clarke, Marathon Nan - Training (even while on holiday) (25063403)

Exasperating as it is, the signs are still good that I’ll be fixed and back on track with my training plan in a matter of weeks. So rather than tear my hair out as I watch my fellow 2020 marathon alumni progress with their weekly runs, getting quicker, running longer, growing in confidence, I’ve decided to take the only possible responsible approach: reading up obsessively about marathon running and running gear, while I sit on the sofa willing myself to heal quickly.

Previously more of a music magazines or woman’s glossies kind of a gal, I’m now a keen subscriber to, and cover-to-cover reader of, Runner’s World:poring over their articles on the best core exercises, top tips for novice marathon runners and which smart watch is the smart buy (oh hello Garmin Forerunner 45). I’m researching the best moisture-wicking (ugh!) fabric for leggings, trying hard not to be too shallow and influenced by which are going to best coordinate with my Alzheimer’s Research UK running vest (orange and turquoise a must). I’m also just one click away from “investing in” a third pair of trainers (Brooke’s Ghost 11, if you’re asking): the single most important bit of kit for a runner, as my throbbing foot will attest. Compression socks have been purchased. And all this lovely gear is sitting, pristine and untouched, waiting for the go-ahead from my doctor and physio before it can be put to use.

Jude Clarke’s marathon training isn’t going quite as planned... (25063411) (25063411)
Jude Clarke’s marathon training isn’t going quite as planned... (25063411) (25063411)

I’ve also been using the time to focus on my fundraising, and have launched a thriving small side-gig baking cakes for friends and colleagues, for a small donation to my appeal plus the cost of ingredients. Leaving collecting tins at my local pubs has been undertaken as a charitable duty, and definitely not just an excuse for mini pub-crawls: no, really. Plans have been hatched for a charity gig in the next month or so, and a book/cake sale at work. My £2,000 target, as part of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s charity team, is starting to look slightly less impossible.

And although frustrating, this period of enforced inactivity has definitely reinforced to me just how much I now seem to love running, and what an integral part of my life and day-to-day routine it has become. I almost physically crave it: the exercise, the cold dark rush of air first thing in the morning, the endorphins, the sense of achievement, the good ache of limbs that have been given a proper work-out.

So fingers crossed that by the time you’re reading this (gulp, just two months away from M-Day) I’ll be back literally up and running. Ticking goals off my list. Crossing out weeks achieved on my training plan. Proudly sporting my fancy leggings, swanky watch, socks and trainers, which will hopefully by now be less than pristine. Back to running. Back to training. Back in the race. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?

Jude is running the London Marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Unless we bring about life-changing preventions and treatments, one in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime. Dementia research is making progress, and through research we will keep people connected to their families, their worlds and themselves for longer. Sponsor Jude at justgiving.com/jude-clarke-london-marathon-2020 or find out more about the charity at alzheimersresearchuk.org

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