“Now, does this hurt? (WHACK!!) Oh dear, no marathon for you!”

Despite a common belief, there is no evidence that Sigmund Freud ever said of the Irish, “This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever”. We don’t know his views on marathon runners either.

Fortunately, the Paris Marathon only requires you to be sound of body, not of mind. French half and full marathons require you to submit a medical certificate for entry. By contrast, the Dublin Marathon doesn’t demand this.

Either way, you should always go to a doctor before you start training for a marathon or other endurance event, especially if it’s your first. Anyone who doesn’t is an idiot. Fact.

Today I went to the doctor to get my medical cert. Happily, I got the all-clear. My recent touch of bronchitis has cleared up, and my blood pressure was fine, so the heart and lungs are in good shape.

The doctors I’ve consulted during my seven years in Paris have never been very sporty. Today’s guy asked me how long a marathon is, while a previous one knew of Irish golf courses but not of Irish rugby (the most familiar sporting reference for most French people). They have all given a slight wince when I told them I was training for a marathon, but none ever tried to talk me out of them. In any case, I would have just moved on for a second or even a third opinion until I got my cert.

I’ve enjoyed good health so far in my life. My only hospital stay was to have my appendix removed, and apart from a more serious touch of bronchitis (mixed with slight pneumonia) when I was 12 I’ve never had anything other than common illnesses. It’s probably no coincidence that my brothers and I were active children. Until I was ten we lived in the countryside and during the summer we thought nothing of walking the mile into town and back. We played football in our back garden and at one stage we were in the local athletics club. Even in my teens and twenties, when I wasn’t practising any sport, I walked everywhere. This is the physical and aerobic hinterland of my running. (It has also been good for clearing the mind and warding off the likes of Mr Freud.)

Any unlucky strain or twist could befall me between now and the marathon – but most injuries heal with time and patience. The core health is a more serious matter, and thankfully I’m fine at the moment. But I won’t take it for granted.

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