Like most runners, you got faster and were able to run further. You might have then started to contemplate entering an event; one evening, making an impulse decision to sign up for one of the Great Run 5ks, 10ks, 10-milers or half marathons.
That was a few months ago though, and now, event day is fast approaching. You are possibly feeling excited but maybe a little nervous too. You haven't run at this distance before and are worried about registering a "Did Not Finish".
You haven't been running as much as you anticipated, or you're recovering from a recent injury. There are numerous reasons why you might be a little apprehensive, but my advice is simple: Don't worry, be happy, and run for fun.
Pre-race nerves are common. In fact, I know very few runners who don't get them. However, one of the great things about organised running events is that they are, by definition, organised.
You needn’t worry about slowing down elite runners as most events have designated start points for estimated finishing times. Whether you are an elite runner, running for fun, walking or in a wheelchair, these events are open to all. Whatever your pace or ability, you will be made to feel welcome.
As the warm-up begins you’ll be motivated by the encouraging words of the race announcer (Bryan Burnett is my favourite), who will prepare you for the start.
Take part in the warm-up, take in the atmosphere and ready yourself mentally and physically. Wave after wave of participants flow past the start line until it’s your turn to press start on your GPS watch or app...and off you go.
One of the things that make Great Runs so great, are the people who get involved. From the organisers and marshals, to the runners and spectators, the support I have witnessed and received has been tremendous.
On one occasion, I fell from too much manoeuvring and several runners stopped to help me up. Valuable seconds lost from their times, but no sign of any displeasure, as their concern was for my wellbeing and my ability to continue.
Even when you are flagging (mile nine in the Great North Run, for example), other runners will appear by your side and offer gentle encouragement. You’ll establish fleeting friendships and share running histories before one of you drifts off.
And as for the crowds…the crowds at Great Run events deserve a blog post on their own.
In every city the communities come out in their droves to cheer on the runners and supply some much appreciated Jelly Babies – a #reasontorun on its own. I’ve ran to the beat of choirs, steel drum bands and local DJs while I must have high fived over 100 children. They always put a smile on my face and help boost my efforts…
Throughout the course are hydration stations, marshals and First Aid officers who can attend to any concerns and injuries. If, for any reason, you cannot continue safely, there will always be someone at your side.
Before you know it, the mile markers will announce that you are almost there. You may feel tired and will be wondering if you have enough energy, but the sight of the finish line usually takes care of that.
From out of nowhere, you will raise your head, pump your chest, and if anything like me, you might attempt to sprint like Daniel Craig. Ahem, 'attempt'.
When you cross the finish line – congratulations, you're officially a finisher.
So enjoy the lead up to the run. Rest and enjoy your pre-event carb-fest. You can and will do it. You’ll earn your medal and t-shirt, and before long, you’ll be signing up for your next one.