Over 38,000 people pound the streets of the capital to run the 26.2 miles (or 42km for our continental folks) of the London marathon on Sunday 24 April. For the lucky runners, they’ll experience cheers, fancy dress outfits, very long queues for the loos, a lot of blisters and awkward chafing (sos), and hopefully an enormous sense of pride. For the rest of us, watching hours of TV coverage looking to see if we can spot Linda from Finance doing it (you won’t), there’s much respect, admiration and maybe a touch of envy.
Here’s some ways you can be inspired by the London marathon without months of grueling training…
WE DARE YOU
You may not be able to run a marathon, or just simply detest running more than Nickelback, but that doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself for a good cause. You can either invent your own challenge or lots of charities host events which will test you.
Aside from their famous (and delicious) coffee morning event, Macmillan also do trekking events including hiking in Costa Rica and a thigh burning walk along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. (Disclaimer: Chris Pratt isn’t affiliated with this, nor is any part of the Jurassic park franchise. But we’re pretty sure making dinosaur noises/jokes is totally acceptable.) Cafod also do an A-Z of fundraising ideas, from organising a concert to ‘It’s a Knockout’ challenges, and even a yodelling competition (we’re guessing they gave up by the end of the alphabet, but hats off to anyone who tries this).
If the thought of going alone terrifies you more than a clown on an acid trip, persuade your mates to take on a challenge together and multiply the fun (and create less excuse to back out). Get a team together and try the Great River Race Challenge, the biggest rowing event in Europe, and have an oarsome time (teehee). If London isn’t your thing, explore the stunning historic Scottish countryside through the Rob Roy Challenge by bike and foot.
BE THE ROCK
No, we don’t mean The Rock, though we’d be impressed if you had 0.0001 % of the muscle strength he has. Doing a marathon not only needs physical effort, but a lot of mental energy. Take inspiration by supporting a runner with words of encouragement. Be that supportive friend, sister, daughter, wife, workmate, grandchild. Research from the New Economics Foundation says one of the five ways to wellbeing is to connect (and nope, we’re not talking about Tinder) to feel close to other people. So pick up the phone, ask how someone’s weekend was, and listen (even if it is about their sick cat), speak to someone new, pop round for a cuppa, go for a pint… You’ll feel all fuzzy inside as well as brightening up someone else’s day. You can even go the extra mile and befriend an older person in your community through Age UK.
Err yeah, OK, this isn’t quite as much of a challenge as a marathon, but you’re supporting local businesses, being social AND supportive to runners. ‘There’s A Beer For That’ have created a guide to pubs along the marathon route, including one at each mile point and suggestions of what to drink – ooo err! A fave is The Mayflower at mile 11, the oldest pub on the River Thames with a gorge view. They serve Leffe blonde, a pale abbey beer that is delicious but also very strong. The Blackfriar at mile 24 is in a very impressive Art Nouveau masterpiece of a building, so you’re being cultural too! Just don’t test every pub en route, the medical staff around the race aren’t meant for you.
Are you feeling inspired by the London Marathon?
Share your ideas with us – @tweetjanes.