It’s been over a week since we ran the Paris Marathon and I’m still not sure how or what to write about the race. It’s all a bit of a blur to be honest with you, but it was definitely one of the best but hardest experiences of my life!

Nothing went according to plan for this marathon… From my ankle injury that disrupted my training to the extreme heat that messed up my race strategy – it genuinely felt like my whole journey to run Paris was an uphill battle filled with obstacles.

As you can imagine, running 26.2 miles is hard, but running 26.2 miles in 25 degrees and sunshine is even harder, and the heat was definitely the most difficult part for me to cope with due to my “overheating issues”.

Despite running in every bit of shade I could find, hydrating at every water station, pouring water over my head and arms, trying to keep a slow and steady pace, and having my own cheering duo following me around the course, I remember passing the 10K mark, smiling to myself and thinking “Oh shit Orsi, you are so incredibly fucked!!”

But luckily for me, I had the best race partner who encouraged me to keep on going when I thought that I couldn’t and together we managed to get through it all with a big smile on our faces. It wasn’t pretty at times and it definitely wasn’t fast, but we started and crossed the finish line hand in hand and I couldn’t be prouder of our accomplishment.

It took me 5 hours and 19 minutes to complete the Paris Marathon and even though it was almost one hour slower than my London Marathon time, I remember passing the 37K mark feeling so incredibly proud that despite not being able to walk properly four months earlier, I was now running a marathon and the running wasn’t even the hardest part of it all!

For a person who hates running, feeling and thinking like that was an incredible confidence boost and all I can think about since is: “So when are we running the next one?!”

I’ve taken some new approaches to my marathon training which has meant:

  1. Keeping my (social media) mouth shut and just getting on with it
  2. Only saying something when I have something useful to say

And this is one of those instances…

It’s safe to say that my training hasn’t gone to plan whatsoever. I was keen on getting another PB in Paris so I figured I’d ease myself back into training last autumn, but I just couldn’t find my running mojo.

Once I reluctantly got back into the swing of things, I almost got hit by a car, which left me with an injured ankle and out of action for 6 weeks.

My perfectly planned 6 month training plan was reduced to a pathetic 12 week emergency schedule and with Paris Marathon now being less than 5 weeks away, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learnt the past months:

Change the things you can and don’t worry about the rest

Not being able to walk properly for almost a month forced me refocus my efforts back in December. Instead of panicking about about my ankle situation, I decided to change the things I could have an impact on, like:

  • Getting enough (quality) sleep
  • Hydrating as much as possible
  • Focusing on eating better
  • Cutting down on alcohol and other habits that left me feeling fatigued

I didn’t see or feel any changes straight away, but I kept at it in hopes that it would help and having done my best to improve these areas of my life in the last 3 months, I can honestly say that it has made a huge impact!

Learning the difference between “enough” and “lazy”

One thing that I’ve been really bad at in the past has been to stop when my body tells me its had enough. I would push through the pain, over do it when I should be resting and generally just doing anything in my power to stick to my training plan.

This time around I’ve made a conscious effort to try to listen to my body, to be flexible with my training and stop when I feel pain. I admit that I still struggle with this because sometimes I feel like I’m just being lazy. I’ve been feeling guilty about the fact that I started out doing 4 runs a week, that then went down to 3 and that now stand at around 2 a week. However, I have come to accept that the reason for this is not laziness, it’s because my body just isn’t recovering fast enough for me to be able to do more than those runs at the moment and that just has to be ok.

Be thankful for what your body can achieve

In the last four months I’ve gone from completing reluctant runs, to not being able to walk at all, to running 17 miles without any issues. I’m definitely not as fast as I used to be, my condition isn’t as good as it was when I did London marathon and I find it very difficult to stay motivated at times when I feel like I’m not making progress. But whenever I feel down about my current achievements I try to remember what an incredible thing it is to be able to lace up and run, whether that’s for 1, 3, 13 or 26 miles. I should be proud of how quickly I’ve bounced back from my injury instead of torturing myself for all the things I’m not able to do.

There’s no denying that this marathon training has been a real struggle for me, but I overall I’ve learnt some valuable lessons and I can only hope that once race day comes, I will be able to celebrate the journey that lead me to the finish line – even if it looks like it’s going to be a slow and painful one!

Training for this marathon and then running it was a totally different experience from my first attempt in Copenhagen.

Back in 2014 it was me and Cata tackling this huge challenge together, whilst this time around I was all on my own, both in training and on race day.

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Not gonna lie, the end of 2015 was a bit of a low point in my life… But I somehow got through it and one of the things that helped was running.

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The nerves were on top the night before the race. It looked like the weather would be constantly changing and my biggest worry was overheating, which would result in disaster.

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It ended up being a sunny day but with some clouds and wet patches (thank god!). I was a big mix of emotions before the race (just look at my anxious smile haha) but I was determined to soak up the moment and enjoy it as much as possible.

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Here I am on Tower Bridge , just before the half way point, beaming like a ray of sunshine. I spotted my friends way before they spotted me and I couldn’t help but to burst out in laughter seeing their surprised faces when they finally clocked me standing in front of them (yes my friends are the best!).

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After seeing them on the bridge I only had one goal in mind and that was to make it to mile 21. The thought of seeing RDC and running through that (now) iconic Cheer Dem Crew spot was the only thing that kept me going for the next 8 miles. And WOW what a feeling, one of those moments I’ll treasure for the rest of my life!

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The rest of the race was HARD. I was getting more and more tired in my legs, the sun was burning my face, but I knew that I couldn’t give up so I kept on smiling and I kept on running.

Even though my toilet break had lead me to believe that my sub 4:30h dream was over, once I realised I might still have a chance I gave it everything I had left!

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And it worked!!! Despite the toilet break, quite a few hug-a-friend stops, a few I’ve-had-enough stops, and a slightly slower 3 final miles, I completed the London Marathon in 4 hours and 27 minutes!

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Definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it felt amazing and even more so seeing so many of my friends and SO MANY STRANGERS being out there cheering me and thousands of others on. Definitely one of the best days of my life!

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Massive thanks to all of you who helped me along the way in training and on the day – you rock my world and I’m so incredibly lucky to have you <3