Our initial plans for GameBlast24 were revealed in a post last week.
Pete and I take part in this annual streaming marathon every February to raise funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. The charity transforms the lives of people with physical disabilities through the innovative use of technology, and uses video games to enhance confidence, independence and rehabilitation.
Although we’d previously said that we were getting too old for 24-hour Twitch streams and wouldn’t be doing another one, there’s nothing which feels like it could be more fitting for GameBlast24. You can expect a day filled with games, Pete’s singing and the obligatory Kit Kats and coffee on Saturday, 24 February 2024. More details about the set-up and schedule will be shared each month here on the blog.
We’re not just taking part in one marathon though, but two. A few months later on the morning of Sunday, 21 April 2024, I’ll be lacing up my running shoes to tackle the London Marathon on behalf of SpecialEffect. This event has been on my bucket list for a very long time now so having the chance to do it for a cause which holds a special place in my heart is truly exciting.
I applied while caught up in the hype of taking part in the ASICS London 10K after seeing a post from SpecialEffect on LinkedIn. I didn’t expect to get through though as entry is always in such high demand and my previous direct applications had all been unsuccessful. It was therefore a shock to get a call from the team at the end of June to offer me a place. When asked if I’d accept, there was a small part of me that wondered what the hell I was doing – but of course I wasn’t going to say no.
As explained before, I’m not a natural runner. Although it’s been something I’ve done on and off for the past 15 years for the health benefits, I’m never going to be the fastest or most competitive and will always have those days where it’s a struggle to get out of the door. But there’s something undeniably addictive about getting into that state of mind where the only thing you’re thinking about is putting one foot in front of the other. I guess it’s a kind of meditation, one I now look forward to more often.
I started training for the London Marathon in July. The sheer volume of information online about training plans was overwhelming and made it hard to know where to begin; and I didn’t personally know anyone who’d taken part in the event before, so I had nobody to turn to for advice. Eventually I stumbled across a book with good reviews that looked like it might be useful. I’ve now been following one of the plans in Marathon: You Can Do It! by Jeff Galloway for the past 12 weeks.
Galloway promotes the Run Walk Run method. It seems counter-intuitive at first: running for a set number of minutes before taking an enforced walk break feels like it’s going to really slow you down. But weirdly, it doesn’t. The method allows for conservation of resources and quicker recovery so you can maintain your speed and reduce your body temperature. When I first tried it, I managed to complete a 10K run only two minutes slower than the time I’d achieved for the ASICS London 10K in June.
I’m currently on a ratio of four-minutes of running to one of walking. As well as noticing an improvement in speed, this short break also allows me to make sure I’m drinking enough water and perhaps even take a photograph (more about that below). I managed to do my first ever half-marathon distance using Run Walk Run a couple of weeks ago in just under 02:35 hours and, while there are plenty of people who can do it far faster, this is still something I’m rather proud of.
The training plan is split into six sessions every week: usually three cross-training shifts, two 45-minute runs and one long-run of a set distance. Responsibilities at work can often interfere so it’s important to maintain a degree of flexibility when it comes to planning my weekly schedule. I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep Saturdays for rest-days and Sundays for long-runs as I continue progressing. This will fit in nicely while Pete and I get back to streaming more regularly on the weekends in the lead-up to GameBlast24.
We’ll just have to make sure that we finish at a reasonable time on Saturday evenings so I can get enough sleep before Sunday morning sessions. I’ve noticed that the further into the training plan I get, the earlier I become tired and the hungrier I constantly am. Carbohydrate loading before the long-runs seems to be working for me but I’m still experimenting with my mid-week diet. If you’re interested in seeing what I’ve been eating before and after a training session, take a look at the recipes in this post.
I’ve been publishing regular updates to Instagram and our JustGiving page, including photographs taken while on my runs. Living in an area with plenty of open spaces means there’s always a new public footpath to try so I’m never quite sure what I’m going to see or where I’m going to end up. Thankfully, Pete is able to track me on my runs through my watch so I’m never in danger of not being able to make it home. A gallery from my running adventures so far is included below.
As mentioned above, there’ll be monthly updates about our progress towards GameBlast24 here on the blog. I’ll also continue sharing a few posts about running and the London Marathon every so often too. All donations received through our JustGiving page go straight to SpecialEffect and will help them continue their amazing work, transforming the lives of people with physical disabilities.