Our CEO is taking part in the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 23rd of April, to raise money in support of a children's charity, Brainwave. We interviewed him to try and understand more about what it takes to run 26.2 miles and what keeps you going.
When did you start running and why?
Last October, when my brother was approached by Brainwave to help raise money by running the Virgin London Marathon, but as he ran it 9 years previously, he suggested that I and another colleague maybe interested. I first turned the offer down, due to an old rugby injury that damaged my knee, the thought of running a marathon seemed ludicrous particularly as I was just under going physio on my knee that triggered off Plantar Fasciitis along the bottom of my foot that made simple stairs difficult, let alone a marathon!
But then I thought about it, the children at Brainwave don’t have it easy, they have to make the most from what they have, so actually they inspired me to see past the injuries and I just said, ‘I’ll do it!’
How often do you train / run?
I started on twenty minutes once a week or about three miles, I wanted to go slow, get used to running and be cautious of my knee and feet. I slowly built it up towards end of last year in December with one run being slightly longer than the other, about thirty minutes. At the peak of my training, I've been running three times a week, around twenty five miles, which I would never have thought possible. I’ve also mixed the running with a bit of swimming and biking.
What challenges have you had to face?
I’ve done all my training and running outdoors, I am not really a treadmill fan, so getting used to early rises and freezing my butt off has been one of the main challenges, but the most significant has really been all about the knee and being careful each step of the way.
The first thing I did when I started the training was to shop around for the best shoes. It had to be Nike, not because I used to work for them, but because the air max’s was the obvious choice to limit the shock that my knee was going to potentially face. There’s also planning the training around everyday life, particularly my work and family life which, includes a two year old daughter.
What motivates you to keep going?
The kids at Brainwave mostly, having a healthy two year old and knowing how lucky I’ve been after having her so late in life, makes me really appreciate her and I would love for these kids to be as happy as she is in life.
I am also massively motivated by the miracle of my knee! After sacrificing so many dreams over the last ten years, like my love of skiing, tennis and other high impact sports - all in fear of my knee collapsing - running - the nemesis that caused it originally - has been the healer! As the training started to pick up, it appears that the development of bone mass around the knees has somehow caused the pain to go away.
There is also a number of sponsors who have committed to me based on completing the marathon, that's a great movtivator.
What does the Virgin London Marathon represent to you?
There’s of course, the charity of it all, for years you watch it on TV and see the celebrities, amongst others, all running to help those in need, which is just an amazing sense of community spirit. It’s not easy canvasing and asking for people to sponsor you, and I’ve come to realise this, when setting large targets, so I really respect those that have done it before me.
I now know why people will go to all kinds of lengths, including those attempting 26.2 miles dressed up as a cat etc. But amongst the fun, it’s easy for viewers to loose sight of the strength that’s required to complete 26.2 miles. There are many who will walk the marathon from start to finish, but there are others who don’t intend to walk it. However, even for the brave hearted at some point the ultimate test falls in front of them and it comes down to mental and physical strength to help drive them on to complete one of the toughest races on earth.
What are your objectives, position and time etc?
In my training I was able to run 20 miles in just over 3 hours, but I realise how tough that last 6 miles is going to be, I am hoping I can do it in 3 hours and 30 minutes, but honestly I’ll be happy if I can break 4 hours at the age of 46! Perhaps if my daughter will let me have more of her jelly babies, I can do it quicker!
What do you want to say to people who still hesitate to participate?
The risk in failure is the failure to take the risk. Look at the story of my knee, I am sure there are so many people who hold back in fear of the worst. I am 46, and I’ve never been fitter in my life, it’s like I’ve been given a second go!
Don’t let injuries, obstacles set you back in life, keep going, life’s too short, before you know it, you’ve lost years of your life that you can’t get back - all because you lacked the courage.
What will be your next challenge?
Now that I have experienced the long run and have the confidence in my knee, I'd be tempted to do a triathlon as I love biking and swimming.