London Marathon 2008 entries are open, and you're sitting on the fence. Your can't-do demon reminds you that even five miles can leave you gasping at the moment. Your gung-ho self counters that a friend of your cousin's ran 3:28 with just two weeks' training and a curry the night before.
They're both distractions. If you can run even two miles now, you're a long way ahead of thousands of people who can barely make it round the block as late as January. With a little consistency, you'll be able to achieve more than you ever thought possible by April.
"What a day! Fantastic – I did it in 6 hours 41 minutes, first time. To do that I have had to lose nearly five stone in weight, combat asthma, deal with a medical history of quadruple heart bypass, all since a year ago when I saw my daughter run the marathon and I said, 'I wonder if...'"—Norm, age 60
... But don't underestimate the need for solid training. Of course a handful of people wing it with a week's preparation. But you'd have a 2% chance of an enjoyable marathon like that. Build up using a little intelligence and you have a 98% chance.
Enough of the lecture. Here are some pointers to help you make up your own mind:
Here's what it's like when it goes well
"From the day I got accepted, to the moment I finished, it has built into one of the best things I will ever experience."—Andy Gillespie, 4:08
"The crowd numbers and support are absolutely AWESOME and the whole event gets under your skin. I never tire of playing the video; I smile, I choke back tears, my skin tingles."—Slotwin, 4:17
"I learnt a great deal about myself – my inner strength and my sense of determination! I would recommend this event to anyone looking to achieve a goal in life: you will never match the high."—Lesley Fitzgerald, 5:02
Even when you've run many marathons, the feeling of crossing the line is extraordinary. It's public and private at the same time; unassailable proof that you've dedicated yourself to months of hard training and had the willpower to pull yourself through a race of immense highs and lows. For many it symbolises a confidence they've never had before; a proof to doubters; possibly a huge change in lifestyle.