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Marathon Man: My Experience of Writing the Book by Alan Corcoran

Writing.ie | Magazine | Tell Your Own Story | Writing & Me
Alan Corcoran

Alan Corcoran

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I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the creative, challenging and satisfying process of writing my debut book – Marathon Man: My Life, My Father’s Stroke and Running 35 Marathons in 35 Days. Although I completed this 1,500-kilometre charity run almost ten years ago, I had no appetite to start the marathon writing project until late-2019/early-2020. Before then, I was an okay B/C-level Leaving Cert English student. My writing over the last decade was confined to prescribed academic college assignments, and technical Town Planning reports for a public sector local planning authority.

Soon after a slow start to my writing journey – refining my old journal entries – Covid and lockdown took full effect. Like the storm of my dad’s stroke, the pandemic and movement restrictions flipped life on its head. Again, I found control and certainty ripped away. This time, it wasn’t isolated to my family’s crisis. The world was disoriented in unison. Many seemed to panic, worry, stress and feel sorry about the unfortunate life circumstance they were hurled into. How will we continue like this? This is horrendous! Oh god, I might lose my job, end up in ICU, or worse!

The temporary nature of stability – and our lives – were magnified beneath a microscope. I’ve been there before and reverted to my tried and tested response, a response that got me through tough times. For me, it doesn’t feel beneficial sitting under a heavy cloud and hoping the stinging rain would pass on its own accord. I find that taking action and walking to shelter to be a helpful and soothing solution.

Instead of taking to the roads and trails, as I did after my dad’s stroke in 2011, I focused my energy on a different kind of passion project. I found writing my story to be an escape from the claustrophobic environment of my shared one-bed London rental. It was an expressive and liberating process that added a splash of colour to the greyness of confinement. Before and after my homeworking day job, I was able to wander through time and space, jogging through the tree-lined muddy trails, all from the solitude of my home office/kitchen/living room/gym.

I discovered a newfound pleasure in expressing myself through writing rather than sporting self-expression. While my job required me to write technical reports within a defined template, independent authorship allowed free rein. There was no tweaking of my opinions to accord with management’s views.

In an unprecedented time, when my career had hit a pothole like many others, it mattered less. A freeing and meaningful personal pursuit filled my increased free time. Pursuing a high-quality leisure activity, I felt I was more than just my job title, honing a skill and trying to create a story worth sharing.

Covid times and the writing process was eye-opening. It offered a glimpse of a possible future. What I mean by that is, if I’m fortunate to reach old age, I will likely be living under some Covid-like restrictions. At a point, I won’t be able to go out to the pub or on holidays with friends and family or have the good health and ability for a therapeutic hike or swim. I’ll have time to sit and think about how I lived without the ability to change course and rectify my lifestyle choices.

Whilst immobile, under strict government instruction, I could tap into life experiences of days once lived to the full. While writing my memoir, I laughed, cried and felt every spectrum of emotion. Journaling my experiences with honesty, I was amazed by how visceral it all still felt many years removed. There was a nourishing energy source in reliving old memories, like being hooked up to a drip when unable to hydrate myself. This experience was an indication that I’m taking the right approach to life, for me anyway, pursuing rich experiences in the first half of my life to feed and satisfy me in the latter half of my life.

When writing, I explored the influencing effect Eddie Izzard had on me, when Eddie ran 43 marathons in 51 days, raising £200,000 in aid of Sports Relief. It wasn’t a book but a tv show which rotated the cogs in my teenage head. The feat of endurance provided a new reference point for what might be achievable. There was a value in what Eddie accomplished – running a great distance for charity. There was a broader value in Eddie and the BBC sharing the story; the tv show had a wider influencing effect than the run alone. If Eddie didn’t share the experience through a documentary, it’s unlikely my life would have taken the turn it did. My writing was a medium for me to hopefully continue the beautiful butterfly effect I felt while witnessing Eddie’s odyssey. I can only hope my piece of work might contribute to others raising their gaze slightly higher than before and reaching for something meaningful to them.

(c) Alan Corcoran

About Marathon Man:

MARATHON MAN is an uplifting story of an extraordinary achievement – all the more inspiring given that the author was an inexperienced long-distance runner and only 20 when embarking on his mission to run 35 marathons in 35 consecutive days. Alan Corcoran’s response to the shock of his dad’s stroke, was to get active, create positive from negative and raise money for charity. Alan faced many obstacles along the road – beyond the sheer physical endurance challenge of running 1,500 kilometres around Ireland. He candidly submerges the reader into his world with an endearingly light touch, showing how through sheer perseverance, you can achieve your objectives. Alan’s Irish humour, positivity and pure determination shine through this story. Whatever your challenge, this motivational book will show you that you can succeed.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Alan Corcoran is an Irish endurance adventure athlete by night and career town planning professional by day. Competing as an Irish international track and field athlete as a juvenile, he switched to ultra-endurance at the age of 20, when his dad suffered a stroke. Alan has since fundraised €45,000 for stroke and cancer charities through his resilience challenges. Alan became the first person to run a lap of Ireland – 35 marathons in 35 consecutive days – and the first person to swim the length of Ireland – a 500-kilometre sea swim – on his second attempt.

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