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My marathon journey

As she takes on her biggest running challenge and first-ever marathon, deputy editor of Irish Runner, Oonagh O’Mahony has decided to document and share the highs and lows of her marathon journey with you, the Irish Runner community, inviting you to follow her progress along the way and share your own marathon journeys over the coming months

Oonagh O'Mahony,
Deputy editor of Irish Runner

Have you ever found yourself in a situation and wondered: what have I done? I have been asking myself that question since early December, when – still high on endorphins from the Aware 10km Christmas Run – I booked myself one of the fast-disappearing places in the 2019 Dublin Marathon.
Yes, that’s right. One semi-decent 10km and I thought, sure what’s another 30-plus kilometres? Until now, I’ve only told a handful of people that I had signed up.

mymarathonjourney2

Hiding, perhaps from the truth of it, but also from the strange looks I’ve been getting because, the thing is, I’m not a runner. Or I would never dare to call myself a runner. Yes, I run, and I run a lot more now than I did in December, but I still don’t feel like a runner. I’m suffering from imposter syndrome.
“Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts his or her accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.”
That’s me. Well, that’s me when it comes to running, at least. As deputy editor, I have no qualms about contributing to Irish Runner but, as an individual, as a ‘runner’ I feel like I don’t quite belong here. Nevertheless, I find myself here and, more importantly, I find myself facing into my first marathon in just under 20 weeks.
I took up running in September last year because I wasn’t getting the results I wanted at the gym. I had overdone some activities and built muscle where I didn’t want it and the only way to burn muscle, according to the all-knowing internet, is to run. I had been running a little bit, on and off, in the past and I knew one thing – I didn’t like it. In fact, I remember clearly the day I decided no more running. It was a gloriously warm and sunny day, too beautiful to go into a windowless gym, so I decided to go running. I was unprepared and I was dehydrated, and I gave up and started walking. I thought, if I can’t get through 5km I just won’t bother.
Several years later, I was forcing myself out the door again and hitting the pavement. I like going to the gym in the mornings, so I tried running in the morning, but I was slow and didn’t get very far in the limited pre-work time available. I was beginning to feel dejected. I tried everything: no music, music, happy music, angry music, the morning radio and podcasts, but it was still a struggle. I switched to evening runs and stopped focusing on the time or distance, just doing as much as I could. I kept track of my progress and every few seconds off a mile was a great boost and I began to warm to running.
I was told I needed a goal. So, the 10km in December was it. When I had 10km done I thought, why not set a real goal, something that will push me beyond my comfort zone and my own idea of what I’m capable of? Plus, I was spurred on my you, the Irish Runner community and the stories I was reading and writing for the magazine (you’re a very inspiring bunch of people).
So now, with the marathon deadline drawing nearer, I’m pushing myself more, and I’m committed to it. I’m sealing my commitment by putting it in writing and I’m inviting you to follow my progress on the Irish Runner website and social media pages. I will be ‘taking it over’ to update you on my progress, the highs and lows. I’m also looking for all your advice and tips.
I won’t lie, I’m nervous and I’m still asking myself what I’m doing and if I’m mad, but I also keep telling myself that if I just stick to the plan, put in the work and stay injury free I can do this. The one thing I’ve found since working on Irish Runner is that the running community is hugely supportive, so get in touch and, if you’re running this year too, let us know how you’re getting on with your training.


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