Janet’s reason to run the London Marathon 2018

Janet LM18Wow, I can’t believe that in just a few short months I will be crossing the finish line of the 2018 London Marathon….. how amazing is that?!

Let me tell you a little bit about me. I’m not a runner and I don’t like running! Pretty strange for someone that has signed up to such a huge physical and mental challenge, eh?

This is also my second marathon, and something that I vowed never to do again…… So here goes, the non-runner, running blog!

Where it all started

In 2017, I ran the London Marathon in aid of Cancer Research UK. I had lost both my parents in relatively quick succession of each other to cancer and wanted to do something both in their memory and to raise vital funds. So, I chose the one thing that was so far out of my comfort zone and would push me to the very limits. The London Marathon.

I started running just 5 months before the marathon itself. I’m not in a running club, and so I downloaded the couch to 5K app in November 2016, and in January 2017 I started on the 16 week marathon plan. I won’t sugar coat it…. It was horrible! I was plagued with injuries from pushing myself too much too quickly and my bank balance dwindled due to copious amounts of physio and sports massages. However, thanks to the amazing support of my family, friends and the crowds in London, I crossed the finish line in 5hrs 30 mins. Not exactly Mo Farrer pace, (I don’t think he gets overtaken by a Rhino!), but the time didn’t matter to me it was the achievement of completing.

As I took my medal (which I wore with pride for days) and had a few obligatory photos, I took my trainers off and threw them in the bin on The Mall, muttering the words “I am never running again!”

So, what changed?

A few days after the marathon (I had taken my medal off at this stage) I could reflect on how amazing the whole experience had been. I had never been prouder of myself for pushing myself to the absolute limits. The marathon itself was overwhelming, inspirational and amazingly good fun. The crowds and support offered were phenomenal and in all honesty, that is what got me round.

In September 2017, I had stopped running, but I also didn’t have the motivation to want to get back out there on my own. All my running before had been with one goal in mind. I needed a reason to run.

My Reason to Run

I work in the Travel Industry, and I am very fortunate to go on lovely holidays, but the thought of children never seeing the sea, or experiencing a much-needed break away really resonated with me.  I was fully aware of the amazing work done by the Family Holiday Association through a travel organisation that I am involved in and it is also their charity of the year. It was a perfect fit – combining my love of holidays and a charity that provides so much to families who really need that break.

Training this time

I feel stronger than I did at this point last year. I am further advanced, even though I only started running again in October.

I am currently running 3/4 times per week, 2-3 shorter runs and my long run at the weekend. Unfortunately, just before Christmas I pulled a ligament in my foot so I was unable to run for 3 weeks. It hasn’t set me back too much and I am back on track with the marathon schedule. I work away from home and spend a lot of time on the road or in hotels and so I have had to adapt my plan accordingly.  But how amazing is it that I can run in different towns, cities and even countries. I am getting to see these places in a way that I would never have before.

Don’t underestimate the Fundraising

My big mistake first time round was thinking the fundraising would be the “easy” part. It really isn’t. It takes dedicated time and effort to get people to part with their dosh. I found the best way to do this was to give people something in return for their donation. I put on a quiz night with auction and raffle. Providing people with a night out in exchange for “buying” a table, and of course getting them to pay for raffle tickets and donating in the auction. I contacted nearly every shop in the town centre and many of them donated prizes – don’t be afraid to ask! I’m doing this again on the 23rd Feb, so fingers crossed for another successful event.

Your reason to run

Everyone has a different motive for tackling the London Marathon; some people have a time goal, some just want to cross the finish line, some it’s because the charity has helped them individually –  and each one is right for the individual.

I’m not running for a time. I’m running for the enjoyment of the experience and to raise money. I know I’m not a strong enough (or experienced enough) to do a sub 4 or even 5 hours. I want to go to London and enjoy the day, enjoy the crowds as they are shouting my name, high 5 the children at the side of the roads and raise as much money as I can for the Family Holiday Association.

If you follow the training plan, and build up to longer distances and get “miles in your legs” – you will be physically able to do this. Mental attitude is just a big part of the day. I find it helpful to get as much information/stories about the charity you are running for as possible, and use that when you are finding things tough. Remember who you are raising money for.

Don’t beat yourself up if life throws curve balls along the way in the form of injuries or time out. This was (and is now) a regular occurrence for me. Just get back to running as soon as you safely can.  I can honestly say, that if I can do this, then anyone can.

Whatever your reason to run is, I wish all my fellow Team Starfish the very best, and I look forward seeing you all with your medals.

Go Team Starfish!