By Andy Teale

Week 1- Ahhh!!! I’m Running Uganda’s First International Marathon!!

62 days. 3 hours. 53 minutes. 7 seconds….

That’s how long (at the time of writing) until I run Uganda’s first ever international marathon on 24th May. In two months, I’ll be taking on the equator’s heat, the African sun, the off road dusty terrain and remaining mud from the Uganda’s rainy season; all over a full 26 mile marathon course.

And that makes me feel slightly nervous in all honesty! I’m starting to feel the clock ticking as the weeks go by now…

As one of the less experienced runners taking part in the event, I’ve volunteered to write a weekly training blog on behalf of the UGM (Uganda Marathon) team. I’ll be sharing my weekly training experiences, the highs and the lows in training, and my feelings in anticipation of the big day.

Me running my first marathon

Me running my first marathon

With only one marathon under my belt, and before that my only other running experience being part of my university’s athletics team, running a more modest 800 meters, I’m relatively new to these big, long distance running events. I’m still learning how to prepare for them and even run them!

Therefore I’ll also be blogging about the different things I’m trying in order to make sure I’m fully prepared for the UGM. What has worked for me, and what hasn’t. Who knows….maybe I might come up with something to benefit your training programme! At the very least, I hope to spur you on and keep you motivated in your marathon/half marathon/relay training, especially if you’re a newbie like me.

The Story (of a Newbie Runner) So Far…

So it’s December ’14. I’d recently completed the Clarendon Marathon (a very hilly, rural course running from Salisbury to Winchester) in October. It was such a great day.

I experienced every emotion under the sun whilst running those 26 miles: the thrill of running the first 13 miles; the feeling of defeat looming when I hit the wall at mile 15; frustration at myself at mile 18 when my body was telling me to stop; and then the buzz of knowing I could finish the event once I got to the 22 mile mark.

It was incredibly tough completing the event when everything in my body was telling me to stop. However the satisfaction (and relief!) of crossing that finish line made it all so worth it. That combined with completing the event alongside a close mate, and fundraising for an awesome charity along the way (which had been very good to a friend from uni), it had been an amazing day.

Me after completing Clarendon Marathon

After completing the Clarendon Marathon, Medal in Hand. Me on the Left

But I was done. A marathon had been ticked off the bucket list. The Clarendon marathon had been such a great experience, I didn’t see myself doing another marathon in the foreseeable future.

Then Uganda came calling.

Well…. technically Andy Bownds came calling. He just landed the role in the UGM team as their ‘Community Partnership Manager’, and called asking if I would like to get involve in the Uganda Marathon. He explained how it would be a unique opportunity to run in the country’s first international marathon, experience the culture and support the Ugandan community. In summary, he described it as ‘a race like no other’.

Uganda Marathon

He also explained how it would be great to do another challenge together (he was the friend I mentioned, who I completed the Clarendon Marathon with). But I was literally about to go travelling. I hadn’t trained in two months already, and wouldn’t be back in the UK to start training again until mid February.

But I knew he was right. This was once in a lifetime opportunity and just told myself ‘yes you can’. So the eventual answer was ‘yes’.

So here I am now. A little up against the clock and slightly muddling through my second round of marathon training. Using what worked last time, and trying improve upon it. But in contrast to any concerns, I am super excited for May. I can’t wait to meet the people of Masaka and experience the Ugandan culture, and of course take part in the Uganda Marathon!

Training So Far…Miles, Miles, Miles

To be honest my training over the last five weeks has been just about short runs, to get my mile count up and increasing the frequency of runs each week. 5Ks and 10ks. As one of my sporting hero’s said, it’s all about ‘reps, reps, reps’, and I’m a big believer in miles, miles, miles when preparing for an event like this. I have been doing some work in the gym too, and I’ll cover that in a subsequent blogs.

However I did just get back from a 15K run today. That’s the first time in my preparation for the UGM I’ve hit the 15K mark, so I’m feeling pretty proud right now! I’ll certainly be aiming to get my distances up further over the next few weeks, but that’s a big milestone. At 9.3 miles, that’s over a third of a marathon! Not going to lie though, my body really was screaming ‘stop’ the whole way, but you know what they say- ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. We’ll chalk that up as a win.

The Plan Next Week

The plan next week is to keep the amount of runs high, and keep covering more miles. As long as I don’t feel as if I’m pushing my body too hard and too fast by the end of next week, I’ve set myself the ambitious goal of a 20K, which is just short of a half marathon. It’s certainly won’t be easy. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Next Week's Training

Next week’s training plan

So that’s the story so far of a newbie attempting to take on the Uganda Marathon. Even the shorter runs are still pretty tough at the moment, and I’m feeling slightly nervous, but very excited at the same time. The ‘Ahhh’ in the title of this blog is certainly one of excitement overall! Hopefully my plan of miles, miles, miles will pay off come May 24th.

Whether you’re preparing for the UGM, half marathon or relay, I hope this blog keeps you motivated and spurs you on with your training over the coming weeks, especially if like me, you’re feeling a little nervous and still learning the ropes for these long distance events.

So until next time….

Keep going. Keep running. Keep training. 🙂

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