Monday’s Rundays: How to train for an ultra marathon and stay married

One week in, 23 to go until I attempt to run 186 miles in three days along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. And, considering I’ve run more in the past week than I did in the whole of December (it was a mental month, workwise), I feel pretty good overall.

Three things are feeling the strain: my calves; a rather intimate area at the top of my legs; and my marriage. A foam roller should sort out the calves and a dollop of judiciously applied Sudo Cream will see the chaffing right. The marriage might take a bit more work though.

How to train for an ultra marathon and stay married


First, a caveat: I’m no relationships expert. But I have thus far managed to get away with spending an inordinate amount of time pursuing my running obsession without the Mrs divorcing me or the kids forgetting who I am or being taken into care.

Things are a bit different this year though. We now have three kids, not two. And before Christmas I quit my job to set up as a freelance journalist. Establishing a business and performing my duties as a husband and father take time. So does training for a ridiculously long run. Juggling them all is tough.

This week I dropped the balls. Other commitments meant that on more than one occasion I ended up running in the mid/late afternoon. That’s feeding time at the zoo, AKA the kids’ teatime, followed by bathtime, bedtime and clearing up the day’s wreckage. That caused marital tension, understandably.

Of course, my marriage means more to me than any run ever will. But all this is more than a hobby or a fundraising push. Yes, I enjoy it and I am raising money for diabetes charities (you can donate here if you fancy it), but the real reason I’m doing all this is entirely selfish: it makes me feel that I’m somehow beating type one diabetes.

Exercise helps me regulate my blood sugar. I need to inject far less insulin than I used to. But managing anything effectively requires consistency. The same is true with diabetes; if I miss a run I need to rethink how much insulin I need to inject, food I should eat, etc. That’s when problems arise with my blood sugar control.   

So skipping runs isn’t an option. But neither is pissing off the wife or neglecting the kids. So for this week’s run days (see above), I’ve made one crucial change: I’m doing my three long runs in the middle of the week rather than at the weekend, to give me more time with the family.

That will require getting up at the crack of dawn to run before the working day begins. That’s not a problem, given that my longest run this week is only two hours. Not sure how this is going to work out as I progress with the training though: in four months my weekly long runs will be seven hours plus.

Sleep’s not that important, is it?

Disclaimer: I have no medical training. I am not a doctor, a nutritionist, a physio or a sports therapist; I doubt they’d even give me job handing out oranges at half time of a football match. I am just a type-one diabetic and former fat bloke with a stupid idea. This blog is my account of following that idea to its conclusion. Do not attempt anything similar without seeking prior medical (and psychiatric) advice.

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