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The long distance runner needn't be lonely!

by Editor
Friday 26th April 2013

Interview: In preparation for Milton Keynes Marathon on May 6, 2013 Run247 interviewed a couple of runners who are taking part

Sam Cousins, is a first-timer, and has been dealing with injury on top of all those nerves which go hand-in-hand with a first marathon. Sue Powell has run four marathons before and has been working on elements of her marathon running she wants to improve.

Sam and Sue are friends who are in the same running club and their interview shows just how much having a running buddy to help you through all those training runs in the freezing cold can help with marathon preparation, and how much difference being part of a supportive club can make. We wish them luck for the marathon and we will be following up with them to see how they get on.

Photos: Sue and Sam at a parkrun. Sam after the Bramley 20

Question How many marathons have you run before?

Answer Sam: This is my first one.

Sue: I have run four marathons before; London, New York, Chester and Abingdon. A bit of a mixed bag there!

Question Why did you pick Milton Keynes marathon?

Answer Sam: Last April I went to support a friend and my running club members who were running the London Marathon. In a moment of madness whilst being sucked into the whole atmosphere I decided I wanted a go! Not only did I decide on a marathon, I gave myself a challenge that I wanted to complete 10 half marathons and 1 marathon before I hit 40 in May 2013. I applied for London as soon as the ballot opened and decided to look for a plan B in case I didn't get a place. A friend at my running club had done MK last year and she recommended it. She said she enjoyed it as it was a good course, well organised and it was flat, which was a bonus. The day I received my London rejection letter I applied for MK.

Sue: Friends at Didcot Runners Running Club had said how good it was last year (despite the appalling weather!), and also it is relatively local. Running the Abingdon marathon last year was such a different experience to all the other marathons I have done, as there were so many people out on the course who I know, either marshalling or supporting. When you are starting to struggle a bit, it gives you such a lift to see a friendly smiling face shouting out encouragement. At one point during Abingdon I was running with someone from a running club in London, and he commented that it was a bit like running with a celebrity, as so many people were cheering me on!

Question How has your training gone? Do you feel prepared?

Answer Sam: I started a training plan in the New Year which was planned for me by our coach at running club. Shortly after I got into the first few weeks I came down with the flu which meant I had to have a week off running, then for the next six weeks I really was not myself and struggled, but I did keep the running up and stuck to my training plan the best I could. I have had a problem with my right thigh muscle from the very start of my training which gradually got worse and then affected my ankle on the same leg and knee on the opposite leg. I had to have another separate week off from running as I was in agony. I have had non-stop physio and sports massages for the last two months which has been a great help. I have had great support and real encouragement from my training partner who has run every run with me and kept me going through the tough days. I do feel as prepared as I can be and I know I have done as much as I could, my sheer determination will get me through.    

Sue: Our club coach drew up a great training plan for me, and I have really enjoyed the sociability of my long runs, most of which have been completed with friends from Didcot Runners. Sam and I have also done a lot of our long runs together, and I think we have both been able to push each other along at various points when one of us has been struggling. March was a bad month for me and I completely lost all my enthusiasm for running, but April has been much better and I now feel back on track. Is anyone ever completely prepared for a marathon? I know I have done all my long runs and had some good races as part of my training, as well as doing some speed work at running club, so I think I’m as prepared as I can be.

Question What is your target for the marathon?

Answer Sam: To cross the finish line running.

Sue: I have always wanted to better my previous time for each marathon I’ve run, and this was my aim for Milton Keynes. However, having been inspired by Tracey Moggeridge and her Brighton marathon run (see Tracey’s Run247 article: HERE), where she set out purely to enjoy the race without focussing on her time, I might adopt a bit of this attitude and see what happens. Hopefully this might also make me more relaxed for the race which can only be a good thing. I completed Abingdon last year with a London good for age time, so in a way the pressure has been lifted a bit for this marathon.

Question What are the things you want to focus on in your race (eg nutrition, pace etc)?

Answer Sam: The biggest thing is pace right from the start line.

Sue: It would be great to maintain a steady pace for the whole run; I know that my pace slows in the second half of a marathon, so my aim would be to try and be more consistent. I take gels every five miles, and this worked well in my last marathon. I think most of all I want to keep positive the whole way round; if my pace slows or something starts to hurt, I want to be able to get past that and think about how well I’m doing and focus on something good (like that lovely cup of tea at the finish!!).

Question What is your greatest marathon fear? How are you going to avoid it happening on the day?

Answer Sam: The weather being too hot as I don't run well at all in the heat. If it's a hot day I really am going to have to slow my pace down and sip little but often on water as I will want to drink and drink then I will be worrying about toilet stops.

Sue: In the past I have struggled between 17 and 23 miles; I haven’t ever hit the wall, but my pace slows and it always seems such an effort to put one foot in front of the other. This time, I’m going to think about how well I’ve done up to that point and perhaps readjust my goals, and think about how great it will be to see everyone at the finish. Hopefully not being so time focussed will also help and I can concentrate on enjoying the race. The support from the crowds along the route is also great for lifting your spirits, and running with a smile always makes the hard work seem easier!

Question What are you most looking forward to once your marathon is complete?

Answer Sam: Having a few days off running and not thinking about the training from the minute I wake until the minute I sleep.

Sue: A cup of tea and a piece of cake! All my friends know that I run so I can eat cake! I always crave salty food as well after a marathon, so a big bowl of chips helps with that! It will be great to see how all the other Didcot Runners have got on, and I’m really looking forward to finding out how Sam got on in her first marathon. Having some time to relax a bit without the pressure of too many races coming up will be good, although I already have 3 10k races booked in over the next few months. I’m already thinking about the next marathon though...


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