One of our marathon runners, Leigh, shares his tips as he prepares for his first ever marathon:

“During my 16 week training plan the thought has often crossed my mind… “What am I doing?! I have always enjoyed running, but in July last year I took the plunge of joining my local running club and this was the springboard to signing up to the London Marathon this year.

It didn’t take me long at all to decide who to run for. After I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma back in July 2007, and the nine months of Chemotherapy that I endured, Willow were excellent in keeping my spirits high by planning my very own Special Day… An experience I will never forget and will always try to repay.

Getting started: the kit

After a knee injury I realised that I needed to go to a sports shoe specialist. This was probably the best move I have made in my running, as now I am pain free and fully supported. I also bought lots of new running tops, shorts, under armour, and a few gadgets (Garmin running watch, anti-chaff stick and nipple pads!). Although it would be fair to say I have bought too many as I doubt any runner really needs 20 different T-Shirts & 11 pairs of shorts…

Another purchase I made was a muscle rolle and WOW. I tend to use this after each run & before my long run on a Sunday. This can be a vital piece of kit for any runner (especially if you are covering the miles for a marathon).

So I had all of the kit, but what the heck do I need to do to get ready for 26 miles??

The training

Here are just some of my top tips:

  • There are lots of resources online but it’s important to adapt your plan to suit your needs
  • Draw up your training plan and stick to it – achieving your targets feels amazing
  • But don’t panic if you miss a session, you’re going to be ok
  • Think about your nutrition and include more protein in your meals a few days before longer runs
  • Once you get past 16 miles start experimenting with energy gels – I have three on long runs at the moment

So how has it been going? I must admit I do feel that this training & my approach has literally taken over my whole life since the New Year. My overwhelming emotions about the time and preparation is that, yes it is hard work, and yes you do feel tired at times, and yes it is a phenomenal commitment… BUT even considering all of that it is well worth all of this, and the pain, to help support Willow’s amazing work.

Final thoughts: run, drink, refuel, and rest/sleep well. 

Plus a cheeky plug for my fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/LeighAllsopp

To everyone on Team Willow, I hope to see you at the finish line. Good luck!"

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