Ahead of this Sunday’s London Marathon, I’m catching up with some of my friends taking part. In my second interview, my school friend Tony, a Project Manager from East London, tells me about stepping up to longer distance running.
|Tony, left, with his friend James at the Southend Half Marathon|
What inspired you to run the London Marathon?
My first long distance run was the Reading Half Marathon in 2011 with my colleagues, raising money for The Children’s Trust. The opportunity to help those less privileged than myself was a major factor in deciding to take part as well as the chance to race against my peers – I’ve always been the competitive type! Since then I’ve run another three halfs and I felt moving up to marathon distance this year was the next logical step.
How does running make you feel?
Most of the time I feel great when running. There are times when it gets really hard and you want to stop but more often than not it’s a passing phase and you start to feel good again later in the session.
What’s been tough about training?
I struggled to find a training program which worked for me at first. I was running too quickly on certain days and getting quite bad shin splints as my body wasn’t used to the combination of increased distance and speed work. I started following Hal Higdon’s novice marathon training program and found the sessions to be a lot kinder on my body.
It’s quite hard psychologically to motivate myself to get out the front door sometimes, especially when it’s cold and rainy, but once you get going the running part is pretty easy!
Do you enjoy running by yourself?
Training is quite isolating but I don’t mind plugging in my music and getting my mileage in. I quite like my own company and it gives me a bit of time to myself. The London Marathon itself will be anything but isolating. It’s one of best supported events in the world. No doubt it’s going to be tough but I am really looking forward to feeding off the crowd’s energy and being part of such a special event.
What sacrifices have you made to prepare for the Marathon?
I think the biggest sacrifice I have to make is at weekends. My long runs tend to be on Saturday mornings so it really limits your ability to have a few drinks on Friday after a long week at work, something I’d normally indulge in! Saturday nights have been fairly quiet too as I’m pretty shattered from the mileage.
Who are you running for?
I’m running for the British Heart Foundation. Heart disease is the UK’s biggest preventable killer and the money I raise will go directly to funding research into preventing its impact in the future. They are my company’s charity of the year too so it’s great that I can support them in this way.
Do you have any other sporting challenges in mind?
Finishing the Marathon has been top of my agenda for a while so that is my main focus for now. I’ve already signed up to the Hackney Half Marathon two weeks after London and I intend to continue running by myself. I’ve heard triathlon is good fun and would like to improve my swimming so perhaps that’s one for the future.
What’s your top tip for a new runner?
Find a few short running routes near to where you live. I have a few different length ‘laps’ around my local area which I use for my runs. Start slowly. Downloading a running app such as MapMyRun or Nike+ is a really good idea as you can track your progress and it motivates you to continue to make improvements. ParkRun is also a really good way to get into running. They are local and free organised 5k runs on Saturday mornings. The atmosphere is always really welcoming and caters for any level of runner.
You can sponsor Tony on his JustGiving page. The British Heart Foundation fight for every heartbeat through cutting edge research into heart disease