It's not that I sat down and said to myself, right let's go. It's not that I've started on my shiny new training plan or finally got round to trying a gel. Nope, I sat down to fill in my diary and realised what a challenge it's going to be to fit a marathon into my life for the next four months without everything falling apart. This is the most important bit of preparation I do - I need to make a marathon shaped and sized space in my life.
Imagine the scene. I sat down with 10 training plans, a head full of stuff and my diary. I was feeling smug, I'm a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Then I started to put dates in my diary. They didn't fit. This marathon is competing for precious space in a busy life. No, 3 lives - me, Ali and Mum.
I slept on it that night, had a good run the next day and things got a bit clearer. I don't just want to run 26.2 miles, I also want to stay married, look after Mum and do a good job of work. I'm juggling like crazy as it is, so what gives? I need to make more time for running. But time is probably the one thing I have least of and have least control of.
Well, there's one practical and obvious thing to do - put the minimum 3 core runs into my diary now and work round them. These runs will get me to the finish, they are essential.
Next, I have to look for opportunities to kill lots of birds with as few stones as possible. Ali and I love walking and cycling, timetabling this in is good for us and helps my training.
To succeed, I have to think positively. I worry about not spending enough time with Mum. I went round at the end of my run the other night and she was tickled pink by the running gear and we had a very lively discussion about training. Mum spoke about how proud Dad would be and how proud she was too. I was touched and humbled. Mum might not be able to come running with me, but she can help my motivation and I need as much of that as I can get.
I also have to be opportunistic and flexible and make every second count. Even if I only have 20 minutes between meetings or before work, I can still sprint or do a hill. I need too use the information I'm collecting on my Garmin to push myself and focus on the hard bits. I get a lot of food for thought from my Twitter friends and they have a wealth of advice and wisdom to draw on. I am not alone.
When I started writing this blog, I was thinking about problems. Now, after a spot of running, rumination and (w)riting, I've got a couple of things sorted. I'm clear on what I'm trying to do, I've removed some energy sapping dead ends and I've created a bit of physical and mental space. My challenge isn't just to run 26.2 miles, it's to integrate a successful training programme into a busy life and into the lives of those closest to me. This marathon isn't just about me. That's really important for me to know.
I think it was in @nuuutymel's ryding to health that I first heard the phrase 'failing to prepare is preparing to fail'. I remember nodding sagely and thinking what a wise statement it is. But to succeed, you have to be clear about what you are trying to achieve. My personal best for Barcelona isn't a set time or pace; it's more than that, and I need to prepare accordingly.
Whatever your goals are, whatever you want to achieve, may your preparations go well.
PS If you're doing your first marathon in 2012, get in touch! Tell me about your marathon and your preparation. Send your blog and we can all read it. Or Tweet me and join my first time marathoners list on Twitter (@NBSue).
pps. I haven't forgotten my toenails. I am hoping to keep them on!