Strictly speaking it’s the start of next month, as my indoor rowing marathon will take place at Eston Leisure Centre on the morning, afternoon (and quite possibly evening) of Sunday 1 October.
The distance is 26 miles and 385 yards, or 42,195 metres in new money. Goal number one is obviously to finish, but I’m looking to fulfil a second aim of finishing inside four hours. Actually, the real target is 3 hours 45 minutes (which would almost certainly mean beating my cross Channel—34,000m—record in the process), but it’s important that I’m realistic and focus on just completing the marathon rather than worrying about the time.
That said, it’s pretty hard to ignore the clock, seeing as there’s a performance monitor mounted right in front of your face.
Training has gone pretty well. I started back at the gym in April and have been concentrating on the rowing machine since the beginning of May, since when I have rowed just under 800km (500 miles). If it’s hard to put the bare distance into some sort of perspective, it is roughly the equivalent of rowing from Penzance on the tip of the Cornish coast all the way up to Morpeth in Northumberland.
Obviously that would be a stupid thing to do, seeing as I live in Middlesbrough and would clearly stop before heading further north … and to be honest, if I was going to travel that far, I’d probably use my car.
Back in December last year, I completed the equivalent of an English Channel crossing thanks to some hugely appreciated support—in fact two people (my unofficial trainer Julian Bunn, and Louise Hobson from BBC Tees) stayed for the entire duration. Dedication beyond the call of duty!
The company made an enormous difference. Long-distance rowing is a tough physical endurance sport; there are mental challenges to face as well, but having people with me provided a constant distraction that helped to make the whole event a memorable experience.
This time however, there will be no company; it’ll be me, my mp3 player and headphones, plenty of fluids and a packet of Jaffa Cakes. I train at 23-24 strokes a minutes, which (over four hours) will equate to between 5000 and 6000 strokes in total. My hands are already a mess from hours of gripping the handles, but my biggest concern is actually sitting on the rower for so long, because it gets really uncomfortable—and lengthy discomfort can actually become painful.
But that is just another part of the test… another challenge to overcome.
And we all have challenges to overcome…
Most of my blogs end in similar fashion because the message stays the same: it’s fine to talk about mental health, and asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.
I’ll let you know how everything goes.