Many runners aspire to run a marathon, but competitors go through a lot more than 26 miles to get to the finish line.
First off is training, with experienced runners usually race-ready within 12 weeks.
For beginners, however, most experts recommend slowly building distance for up to 22 weeks beforehand.
But what if you only have six weeks?
“It’s not much time, really, is it?” Mike Inglis laughed.
“It wasn’t intentional to give myself so little preparation time, but when I decided to go ahead with the challenge it was already the end of November.
“I had just started working for Alzheimer Scotland and attended a staff conference where we were throwing ideas around about how to raise money.
“Someone challenged me to run a marathon but I’d already done one, in 2014, so it didn’t seem like enough of a reason to ask people to sponsor me. The idea evolved into a year of marathons, completing 12 official 26-mile runs in 12 months. Somehow I’d managed to forget that after my marathon four years ago I’d vowed to never do it again!”
Upping his mileage was the first step towards the finish line, but even that wasn’t as simple as it sounds.
“I’d only been running the occasional 5km to keep fit so going into marathon training was a big jump,” said Mike, who lives in Aberdeen.
“And it was December by the time I started hitting the pavements, during the really bad winter we had. I was going for really long runs in the snow for hours; it was hideous.”
At the turn of the year, Mike finally took on his first marathon; however, despite having slightly longer to train, it was the second marathon that was his first real test.
“Stupidly, I’d picked the marathons based on their date and not much else,” he said. “I’d not checked the terrain or if there were any special requirements or additional equipment needed.
“I got a bit of a shock when February’s challenge, the Glentress Trail Marathon, came around.
“The route basically took us up the side of a mountain, as well as being really rocky and icy.
“I fell four times and it took me six hours to get through.
“It is definitely the toughest thing I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally.”
However, after turning 40 last week and having settled into a running routine, Mike is optimistic about the next few months and is even, dare he say it, looking forward to one date in particular.
“The Loch Ness Marathon is in September and is supposed to be a really beautiful route,” he said.
“A friend recommended it to me specially and I have managed to convince another friend to do it with me. The scenery is fantastic, running round the water.”
And Mike will be looking patriotic while he’s at it, running in a custom-made kilt fashioned from the world’s first Alzheimer’s tartan.
Designed by Alzheimer Scotland, the unique purple tartan helps raise funds to support people living with dementia, with 100% of the profits going towards dementia research.
The charity is one particularly close to Mike’s heart, and not just because of his job.
“I’ve been working for the company since the end of last year but even before that it was something I was supporting,” he said. “My best friend’s dad was diagnosed with dementia, which was incredibly tough for me as we had been very close. That was actually what inspired me to take this job in the first place and take on this challenge.”
So as Mike laces up his trainers to clock up a few more miles, he urges everyone to consider taking a leap out of their comfort zone.
“Walking five miles is a challenge for some people, it doesn’t have to be extreme,” he said. “You just need to set your mind to it.”
Although he’s not sure what his next challenge will be, one thing’s for sure: if he ever sees a pair of running shoes again, it will be too soon.
“I’m going to retire from marathons at the end of the year,” he laughed. “And this time I mean it.”
To sponsor Mike on his challenge visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michaelinglis1