Running; a word which strikes fear into the large majority of people, excitement into a small minority of dedicated athletes (amateur or otherwise) and probably slight nervousness into anyone who is doing the world’s biggest half marathon: the Great North Run this coming weekend. I’ve done the Great North Run twice before, running for Leukaemia and Lymphoma research (LLR) in 2009 and 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. Having done 6 different half marathons over the last year in places ranging from Edinburgh to Munich – I can honestly say that for the experience alone, the GNR is unprecedented – it simply is the best half marathon in the world, nothing I have experienced has even come close in terms of atmosphere and support.
This year I am sadly not running it as I have a long term injury, which at the moment is preventing me from running more than a few miles in a session, but I am very excited to be going to the LLR ‘cheer bus’ to help spur beatbloodcancer runners on.
I remember last year, when I encountered the cheer bus I gave everyone a wave and there were forty or so people roaring me on – it was such a boost and exactly what I needed to keep going. Having joined my local running club shortly after the GNR last year (which I can highly recommend to anyone looking to continue their running progress after the GNR), I have learned that mental strength is just as important as physical fitness in keeping going for a long-distance run like the GNR and the LLR supporters at the cheer bus really give you a boost. As well as that, there really is something rather special for me about wearing the LLR running top, a cause which is so close to my heart. Even when I wear it on training runs, it just gives me that little extra incentive to keep going past the pain barrier. I know that all of the LLR runners on Sunday will feel the same way and I hope it brings them the same kind of strength it brought me last year. During the run, I occasionally got a pat on the back or arm from another LLR runner which kept me going, so do make sure you wave at /high five your other LLR runners on the way round!
Most of all, get a good night’s sleep – I find it isn’t so important that you don’t sleep so well the night before due to nerves, or having to travel to the race if you’ve had a few good nights leading up to that. Thank you to everyone running or people who have sponsored a runner – your efforts mean that we can continue research to help more people like me survive blood cancer. Good luck and make sure you give the cheer bus a hearty wave as you run past – I’ll be there progressively losing my voice by shouting too loudly!