“I’d be absolutely devastated if it’s cancelled”

With only six weeks to go until the London Marathon, Kieron, Sophie and Ashley (pictured) have been upping the training miles and setting personal bests along the way. The big question is whether the race will get the green light. As the coronavirus outbreak gains pandemic status, mass participation events are being cancelled across the globe. We checked in to see how they feel about the situation.

How’s the training going? 

Sophie: I’m pretty confident now. I did the ‘Big Half’ a couple of weeks ago and took five minutes off my personal best. I finished that in 1:44:44. I’ve done a couple of half marathons as training runs, supporting people and helping people get their own personal best times. The last one I did as a race was last year’s Big Half and I did that in 1:49:52. This was a big chunk off. I’m heading out five times a week, I take off Mondays and Fridays, and I have a coach now. He gives me a plan every two weeks. It’s constantly changing. Tuesdays are now an interval session, Wednesdays are usually four to five miles at a very easy pace, Thursdays I tend to run six or seven miles at an easy pace and Saturdays, because I enjoy going to Parkrun, he tells me what he wants to do over 5K. On Sundays, he’ll give me a long run. An easy pace is probably between 9 minutes and 9 minutes 30 seconds per mile. For the London Marathon, I’ll be looking to run between 8:45 to 9-minute miles.

Kieron: I roughly nail 9-minute miles now which is quite good given I was a complete novice in October. I’ve picked up quite a lot. I know when I’m doing a 5K, I know what pace I can do – around six minutes per kilometre – and I’ll be fine. When I do a 10K I take it down a notch and for the long runs, I do that even more; around about 6:45 per kilometre. I know with them paces, I’ll get round. For the first bit of the London Marathon, I’m looking at running around 8 minutes per kilometre. But I want to get around without any problems. It’s one thing knowing that in your head and another thing doing it on the day.

Ashley: I’m feeling really good. Touch wood, everything is going to plan at the minute. I’m feeling fantastic. I don’t want to jinx it, but everything is going on plan. I’m at where I need to be. I’m up to four or five runs a week at the moment. I’m actually on a low-mileage week this week to let the body heel a little bit. These are easy miles this week, nothing too strenuous. I’ve got a 10K at Mallory Park on the 22nd March coming up, I’m hoping to get a personal best. It’s quite a fast course. I’d like to go for 41 minutes. My best at the moment is 43 minutes.

Your advice for beginner runners? 

Sophie: Believe it or not, hydration is massive. The more hydrated you are, the easier you’ll find running. That’s my experience. I also use Strava, which is big on the running scene, to track my runs and that’s linked up to my Garmin app which records everything.

Kieron: Just making the decision to start is a big step. It’s great getting advice off people but you’ve got to listen to your body. When I go training with my mate, he’s quite a bit fitter than me and he wants to go at a certain pace but I do my own pace. It’s your race, it’s your day, it’s your body…do it your way.

Ashley: My biggest bit of advice would be to enjoy it. The pressure of trying to do better will come after that. Find somewhere nice to run, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, just enjoy it. The best bit, you’ll reap the rewards of the endorphins when you’re done. I’d also sign up to Strava, it’s a free platform and you can track your progress. My partner is fairly new to running and she signed up to it a few months back. Now when we finish a run, the first thing she does is stop the watch and cross-check her data with Strava. People can like your runs and encourage you. It’s got a nice community which is great for morale.

How do you feel about the London Marathon potentially being postponed?

Sophie: I’m a bit apprehensive. There’s a marathon a couple of days after London, which I’m looking at just in case. It’s on a Tuesday, a small out and back 3.3-mile loop, which you do eight times. I don’t want my marathon training to go to waste.  I think the other two marathons (Chicago and Berlin) are more likely to go ahead on time. My friend works for London Marathon and she said unless the government say so, they will go ahead.

Kieron: I had a really difficult week last week with it, I even struggled to train. I’ve put so much into my training, we’ve had to adapt family life to accommodate my training, especially because of my partner’s condition. My boy is mucking in as well. We’re all singing off the same hymn sheet, we’re all buzzing for the race day and then all of a sudden the virus comes about. Everybody is panicking. I got a bit obsessed with it, looking for news. But now I’ve just switched off from it. I have to focus on me. There’s nothing I can do about it.

Ashley: Obviously, it’s crossed my mind. I’m prepared knowing I could log on any minute now to Facebook or Instagram and see the dreaded news that they’ve pulled it. It wouldn’t be a shock if they did. Obviously, I’d be absolutely devastated if it’s cancelled. Non-essential events like this are the easiest things to stop, I guess. Postponed would be the best option, but when you’re trying to peak to a certain date, it’s not ideal. I’ll have to review where I’m at if it’s called off. Do I stop training? Do I start again another 16 weeks out? I hope they don’t delay the decision to the last minute. If they are going to make a call, I hope they give lots of notice.