When you are somebody with a visual impairment, walking, let alone running, can be a perilous task! Despite this, last year I successfully completed the London Marathon in just over four hours with a little help from Meera – my running ‘guide!’
Meera and I have been running together for over two years now. Whilst we also run independently of each other, (i.e. we’re not actually joined at the hip) when it comes to training sessions or races, she keeps me on track with crucial audio ‘hazard alerts’ which always ensures that I cross the finish line safely and at least physically if not psychologically still in one piece!
Training together for the London Marathon was one of our biggest challenges. Number one, because we both have busy day jobs and number two, because we both live on opposite sides of London. Despite this, we managed to find ways to make preparing for such a prestigious event an amazing experience that we will never forget! Like all these things, the hard work was in the preparation and whilst it certainly was hard, it was also definitely worth it!
Some of the key lessons we learnt from last year included recognising that whilst it was clearly important to follow a training plan that was suited to your ability and availability to train, it was equally important to build in some flexibility, both to the timing and volume of your training each week. So if you miss a Tuesday morning 30 minute threshold run, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. Make sure you do not try and make it up the following day with a run twice as long and fast!.
Getting your fuelling and hydration strategy right was also really important. Make sure you spend some time well in advance of race day trying out different gels and sports drinks on your longer runs because you’re going to need them if you want to avoid an early bath on the day!
Another thing worth remembering is that it’s just as bad (and very easy) to over train as it is not to do enough! In particular, make sure you gently increase the length of your longer runs to minimise the risk of injury. If you can, try and mix up your training with some cycling, swimming or gym work to build up your all round fitness to help get you round Canary Wharf and back heading in e right direction towards central London!
And finally………be nice to yourself! Reward all that hard work with a glass of your favourite wine or a slice of double chocolate fudge cake at the end of each week – it really won’t make any difference to your ability to run a marathon and you’ll feel so much better.
So why am I running for Whizz-Kidz? Well, up until last year I was a volunteer coach at Chelsea Football Club (and I’m a Liverpool supporter!!!). Every Sunday, I use to coach the junior pan-disability team and over the years a number of the players and their parents had benefited from support provided by Whizz-Kidz. So I thought it would be a great idea to say ‘thank you’ on their behalf by running the London Marathon – thereby helping to ensure that this support continued in the future
Whether it’s your first or tenth London Marathon, train hard, look after yourself along the way and you’ll have an absolutely brilliant time on Sunday 22 April!