How was the recent training day?
It consisted of a talk about what to expect on race day. Then we were given some advice on the psychology of training from Stuart Holliday, the sports psychologist. This included identifying our mental weaknesses around training, and finding coping strategies that we can practise before race day.
What key advice did you receive from the experts?
I struggle with race-day nerves, as well as staying focused during races, so Stuart’s tips to not listen to that negative inner voice have really helped. Sarah’s advice about not missing out the key strength and conditioning moves, to stay strong during the marathon, was also a good reminder. We also did some work on the track. I found the track fairly easy, as there were no obstacles. I loved being treated like a proper athlete for the day!
Did you have any concerns about your training beforehand?
No, I haven’t had any concerns. It seems to be going well so far and I’m excited to tackle the race, to see if the training has paid off.
How is your training going?
Things are going really well. I had a bit of a motivational dip due to the long winter and bad weather. I did a threshold session before work, where I found it hard to get any speed on a cold morning, having just woken up without breakfast! But now the end is in sight, I’m feeling much more positive and motivated. Richard and I have revised my time goal to 3hrs 40mins, which will still be a big PB for me and takes the pressure off a bit. I think I’ll run sub 3hrs 30mins one day, but would rather be realistic and enjoy the rest of the training and the race.
How are you managing to fit the training in as the long runs are getting longer?
The long runs are my favourite, but then I feel guilty leaving my family for so long at the weekend. My husband is supportive, so the guilt comes solely from me. I try to get up early to minimise my time away.
What do your friends and family think about you doing the marathon?
They are impressed that I manage to stay so motivated with so much going on. My husband can see how busy I am. He is happy to do a bit more of the cooking and bedtimes so I can fit my runs in after work.
What is your race-day strategy and how does it compare to when you first began training?
I don’t think I ever really put a strategy in place, other than to try and keep the pace consistent and stay hydrated. I will also be focusing more on my nutrition and stretching before the race, too.
What have you learned about yourself and your body by training for the marathon?
The coaching feedback has given me the confidence to believe that I can push myself and achieve a personal best. I ran the Exeter Half Marathon in February and got a PB of 1hr 40mins. I definitely felt stronger. That confidence spills over into other areas of my life, too – I feel fitter, more capable and more confident.
Richard says: “Sophie has struggled to fit everything in, but has a supportive husband and that’s one thing I say to all the runners I coach who want to do ultras and marathons: have you got agreement from your family? Sophie is training hard for the marathon, works long days and looks after a young baby. She’s doing extremely well. Even though she’s in good shape, we might be revising our time estimate down a little bit but, even if she doesn’t run the marathon in 3hrs 30mins, we might aim for around 3hrs 40mins. Nothing is set in stone as yet, but she’s extremely diligent.”