Gareth from the Office: Marathon Man

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IN just over two weeks I will be undertaking one of the biggest challenges of my life – the 2011 London marathon.

And I’m not afraid to say I’m worried. The lead up to the big day has been long and arduous and initially started with an innocent phone call from a friend of mine at Willen Hospice in December.

They asked and my heart went to them, seeing as I have always been a supporter of the great hospice over the years.

A marathon, as I have always told people, is a challenge I have always wanted to take on and I’ll be honest I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

When I was younger I naively thought I could turn up on the day with a month or so training and my fitness would carry me through –Wrong!

You have to train your body, especially your legs, to stay out on the road for hours on end, to push that extra few miles when all they want to do is rest.

You have to teach yourself to run at a pace that you can try and stay at throughout the 26.2 mile course and draw on the support of the thousands of people watching in London and the millions watching at home to see you through.

But my training has not gone without a hitch. At the end of February I was out on a training run and around the 12 mile mark I felt a blinding pain in my knee – my first ever case of runner’s knee had struck.

Similar to tennis elbow, runner’s knee is a repetitive strain injury suffered by those who subject themselves to constant running on hard ground. It occurs when the patella in the knee fails to move smoothly and centrally through the femoral groove at the lower end of the thigh bones.

Since then I have battled, I have iced and I have stretched, I even endured a very painful sports massage to help relieve the problem.

But I am determined to finish the race. There is no way I am pulling out at this late stage and even less chance of me not completing the course. I just don’t think I’ve considered the consequences of it.

The marathon fills me with excitement and a feeling of utter triumph may wash over me at the finish line but I am frightened all the same that the training I am doing through this injury could lead to future problems.

Maybe that’s something worth thinking of afterwards as I don’t want any distractions before the big day.

In the meantime if you would like to help me edge towards my £2,000 target for Willen Hospice you can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/Gareth-Ellis-Marathon-Man.

Anything you can give will be gratefully received. I may be going through some pain, but the pain of losing a loved one cannot compare. I will finish.