As Media and Communications Officer at RAF Wittering, Ed Palmer has seen first-hand how the RAF Benevolent Fund has changed the life of his fellow RAF family members. This Sunday, Ed will be taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon to raise money for our work. In this guest blog, Ed shares his gruelling training regime for this famous 26-mile run.
It's 8.10am on a freezing cold Sunday morning and I've just left the warmth of my house to head out on another training run. Today's target distance is 13.5 miles – roughly a half marathon. As the front door closes behind me and the first draught of sharply chilled air rudely awakens my face and lungs, I think of Emma (my better half) still tucked up in bed with a mug of coffee.
I dab the screen of my iPhone to start Runkeeper and the music starts – 'Alive and Kicking' by Simple Minds. It's a good song to start a run with and I reckon around four tracks will have passed by the time I get to March Athletic Club.
In the Fens, we are surrounded by the Royal Air Force and Tornados from Marham, and Typhoons from Coningsby are a frequent sight in the skies. They are joined by the thundering F-15,s from Lakenheath and any amount of transport aircraft from Mildenhall. A few years back, we had just about everything – Canberras, Jaguars, Harriers, Phantoms and A-10 Tankbusters – the definitive essay on cold war military aircraft was written in the skies above the Fens.
Despite the frostiness, I start to warm up after about a mile and my thoughts turn to guys I'll be running with this morning. March Athletic Club is where I met Emma and you couldn't hope to meet a more encouraging, genuine or welcoming group than the Sunday morning runners. It does not matter how young or old you are, what your level of experience is or how fast or slow you might be – the Sunday morning runners just want you to enjoy the benefits of exercise.
So, off we go and it's not long before the runners have settled into small groups with roughly similar paces. It's a pretty straightforward route which involves some of the lesser used roads around March and the surrounding villages, but the biting cold has given way to a bright freshness and it's just lovely to be out in such good company. Once you get to know the Sunday morning runners, you'll love the banter.
Helpful though it is, good company doesn't overcome the aches and pains of long-distance running and it's been nine years since I last ran the London Marathon. The pains are little more noticeable this time and it takes that bit longer to recover, so you could be forgiven for asking why I'd choose to put myself though this a second time.
Nobody forgets running the London Marathon, it is a life-affirming experience and I cannot recall ever having encountered as much good will in a single place at just one time. Everyone lining the route wants you to succeed; so why wouldn't you choose to have another go if you could? And, if you do get the chance to run, why wouldn't you raise some money too?
By Ed Palmer