Yesterday Ben joined over 40,00 other competitors at the start line of the Virgin Money London Marathon. You can read Ben's blog here:
Exactly a year ago, on Sunday 24th April 2016, I was darting around central London, watching a family friend complete the Marathon. Seeing first-hand the amazing charities, the generosity of strangers and the strength of ordinary people, something clicked inside me - I simply had to run this prestigious race.
I applied (in vain) for a highly sought-after ballot place, but I also looked into running for a charity that would mean something to me as another way in and I was lucky enough to earn a place running for Age UK, a truly inspiring charity that promotes everyone to love later life.
Before my Grandad passed away in August 2015, he was in care and suffering from dementia. Visiting him was difficult and made us grateful to all the staff for their efforts and hard work. Running the London Marathon in memory of my Grandad, whilst raising money for a charity that helps and supports the elderly was my ultimate motivation.
I have always been fit and active but before Christmas 2016, I hadn’t continuously run more than 5k (when I could drag myself to a Parkrun on Saturday morning). I came across the Bupa 16 week marathon training programmes and decided that the beginner programme was the one best suited to my ability. I was fortunate to avoid injuries and poor weather which meant I could stick religiously with the training programme, as tempting as it is to hide under a duvet as soon as you get home from work mid-February! A combination of this programme and sensible nutrition left me feeling prepared to tackle the 26.2 miles of London’s streets on Sunday 23 April.
The day itself is nothing less than exhilarating. All the nerves disappear as you have thousands of strangers cheering your name, offering sweets (the odd cup of beer too) and encouraging you to the end. I really wanted a sub 4 hour first marathon and I sprinted/waddled across the finish line on the Mall with an official time of 3:59:15!
I couldn’t recommend the experience enough and I really hope this can inspire others to apply and raise money for a good cause. Although my thighs are screaming at me whilst I type this, it has all been so worth it and I’m already looking forward to my next challenge! I’m still grateful for any donations and you can easily do so here.
5 tips I can share with you from my experience:
- Unless you’re an experienced runner, be sure to follow a training plan like the one above to gradually improve your fitness.
- Get a motivational playlist for those long solo training runs.
- If you get a niggle, stop and rest. If it persists, get it checked out by a professional.
- Have your name on your running top so the crowds can cheer you on!
- Apply for a ballot place! You can always defer if needed but it gives you a great way in.