Matthew Munson: Going it alone for the Shine marathon

Matthew will be flying solo for this year's marathon challenge

I’m trying something new this year, which is always a challenge. In fact, I’m trying a number of new things this year – of which, more later, but let’s focus on one thing in particular that I’m thinking about this year.

I’ve done a number of marathons over the last few years, which I’ve absolutely loved. Even the first one, which was hard because I was overweight and probably hadn’t practised enough, was enjoyable and educational – I learnt that I didn’t need the walking pole I used for the entire distance, and I most certainly didn’t need the large backpack I had stuffed with all sorts of things.

Six years later, I’m only doing one marathon this year; I’d hoped to do two, until I discovered that the May marathon was asking for a minimum level of compulsory sponsorship that was surprisingly high – and I’ve never been a major collector. Feeling uncomfortable with the focus on squeezing out the little guy, I decided to make a principled stand and back off from the walk, despite feeling gutted that I was going to genuinely miss doing two.

Flying solo

On the plus side, I still get to do one marathon – the Shine in September – and this year I’ll be flying solo. In six years, I’ve never done a marathon by myself, either the practice or the actual walk itself; but this time round – and the last marathon I’ll have the opportunity to do for a few years – I’ll be going round the route entirely alone.

Well, that’s not quite correct; there’ll be about 16,000 other walkers doing the walk as well, but I’m sure you know what I’m trying to say. Getting the motivation to do the amount of practice walks per week you need to stay in good fitness is far easier if you do it with other people. You keep each other active and on course, especially when you’re two-thirds of the way through a practice walk or at 2am at mile 18 and you realise you’ve got at least two hours to go whilst it just begins to rain.

So, I’m going to work on my mental state and ensure I can work through the wall if it hits; it doesn’t in every marathon, but I’ve experienced it before and it hurts, let me tell you. But you can whine and whinge to the friend you’re with and they’ll listen, then tell you to get over yourself. Now I need to tell myself to get over it, which I hope I can do.


The Summer of practice will be quieter without a regular walking partner, especially given the speed with which I walk (I’m afraid I’m no slouch), but I’m always open to ideas, so all you fast walkers out there, why not help a marathon walker practice for his first solo challenge? A couple of my friends have already offered, so maybe I can get a rota going – now there’s a thought – and you get permission to tell me to get over myself if I whinge about “the wall”.

In retaliation, who knows, you might even get the occasional mention in a column.