Ben, a student in Brighton, is far more comfortable on the rugby pitch than the running track. But then love – and loss – opens our eyes to new challenges and opportunities.
|Ben training with his eldest sister Millie
This is your first time running a marathon. What’s made you sign up?
I made a promise to myself after my crazy family first started running marathons for charity that I would run my own one when I turned 21. It is so far out of my league that I am completely and utterly terrified but at the same time I don’t think I’ve felt this excited about something for a long long time.
Who are you running for?
I’ll be running for Breast Cancer Now
. Breast cancer is what took both my beautiful Mum and her Mum away from us. My family have raised over £55,000 so far during the last five years and anything I can do to add to that I’ll be proud of.
How have you enjoyed training?
I definitely feel like my training has been easier because I’ve done it alongside family members who’ve run several marathons between them. I’ve been able to somewhat plan my training a bit better and running with family and friends definitely makes it more enjoyable. Running with someone is so much easier than running on your own, even if you run in complete and utter silence. The support of having someone there keeping you going or vice-versa really can make a difference.
How does running make you feel?
I’ll be honest, I’m not a natural runner, you only need to look at me to see that! However, I have actually enjoyed the training for this marathon. At times it felt like my body was going to collapse I doubted myself thinking ‘what have I got myself into?’. But the sense of achievement when you finally crawl home and realise that you’ve just covered 18 miles or so really does make it worth it.
What are you looking forward to about the day itself?
It’ll be a good feeling when I meet the rest of my family across the finish line. I know I’ll probably be a bawling baby shortly after because the best feeling will be the sense of accomplishment.
Do you enjoy running by yourself?
Running can be great if you’ve got a lot on your mind. It can really clear your head and help you if you’ve got difficult decisions to make. I used to run with music however my step-dad told me he finds listening to music a crutch of sorts. You’d find yourself keeping in pace with whatever the beat of the music was however that’s not necessarily the right thing for your body.
Do you need to make sacrifices to train for a marathon?
It actually surprised me how much of a commitment running is, you really do need to allocate time for it. My uncle would be up and running at 4am because he literally wouldn’t have time if not then. I’ve still managed to maintain a social life whilst I’ve been training. The only thing that’s really been a sacrifice is I haven’t played rugby since Christmas because I didn’t want to risk an injury.
What’s your top tip for a new runner?
Make sure you invest in a pair of proper running trainers or you’ll only be hurting yourself. Don’t worry about distance or time when you begin training, it’ll all come together in time anyway. I’ll try to keep running after the marathon for general fitness I think, next year is going to be my last at uni so I’d like that particular season to be my best yet.
How have your family and friends supported you so far?
My family have always been supportive of one another in everything we do and I know my sisters are always there if I ever need a phone call. The best way people can support me and rest of my family running the marathon is to donate
! Leave a nice message too, my plan is to read all of the sponsors the night before the marathon for a bit more of a push to get round.
The loss you live with and the sad deaths of your Mum and Dad is tragic. How has it shaped your outlook on life?
I’ve had some really really low points, losing my mum was horrible but losing my dad very nearly broke me. I wasn’t myself for a long time and it took me a while to get back to who I am. I’m not one to think ‘everything happens for a reason’. I don’t want to think that way. No matter what, you have to make the best of any situation.
I’m constantly questioning whether or not they would be proud of me and the only way I can convince myself is to constantly push myself to do better. I wouldn’t call myself a religious person but I know that my Mum and Dad will be cheering me on during the Marathon somewhere.
Ben and his family are running for Breast Cancer Now, who fund research into prevention, early detection and effective treatment of breast cancer. You can sponsor them on their Virgin Money Giving page
or leave a good luck message in the comments below.