“I Didn’t Realise Training For A Marathon Would Be So Life-Changing!”

BMC team member, Caroline talks mental preparation, learning to fuel on the run and finally being able to share her love of running with her husband.

How was the recent training day?

It was brilliant to have the support of the experts to call upon. Having never run a marathon before, I’ve been feeling nervous about what to expect on the big day, so it was a good opportunity to go through it all with them, plus the other BMC runners, who have both run marathons before.

Did you have any concerns about your training beforehand?

I’ve been feeling confident about how my training is going, and the regular catch-ups with Richard let me know I’m on the right track. Now it’s getting closer, I’m focusing on how to get myself mentally ready. Visiting the stadium in Warrington was great – getting out on the track made me feel like a real runner!

How is your training going?

Richard says I’m in the sweet spot of training now. I’m sure I’m due a bad run soon, but these past couple of weeks I’ve been feeling amazing! I’ve loved my long runs, and I’m thoroughly enjoying feeling stronger and fitter than I have in years. It feels like the hard work is paying off and I’m loving it. It’s been a challenge training in the winter months, but it’s much easier now the days are getting longer. My main challenge is having faith in myself and confidence that this is possible. It’s been brilliant to have the encouragement and support from the other teammates – we all follow each other’s runs through Strava or Garmin and via social media. It’s a huge help when I’ve had a wobble! It’s been great to talk through the psychological side of things with Richard, too, and as I get stronger, I’m gaining confidence in my own abilities.

How are you managing to fit in the training as the long runs are getting longer?

It’s a challenge, and I’ve had a really busy few months, but I tend to get up early and crack on with some work, so I can get out for a run as soon as it gets light. As well as running the longer distances, there’s also a time element in planning new routes and working out where to run, which has been a good chance to get out my Ordnance Survey map and explore more of the countryside that we’re lucky enough to have on our doorstep.

What advice did you get from the ASICS nutritionist?

I’ve always been interested in nutrition, but marathon nutrition is a whole different thing! I’ve never fuelled during a run, so it’s been great to have some help and advice. I’ve also learned that, while marathon training isn’t an excuse to eat anything you want, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough fuel to get through the harder sessions and the longer runs. I’m good at the recovery side of things post-run, but I have benefited from help with pre-run fuelling.

What do your family and friends think about you doing the marathon?

My husband, who I’ve been trying to get to start running with me for seven years, started running when I won the competition to keep me company, and he’s now got the bug! I love having a hobby we can share and that gets us out together on weekends. Friends and family have been wonderfully supportive too – they know how important it is for me to turn our heartbreak over not being able to have a baby into something positive.

What’s your race-day strategy and how does it compare to when you first began training?

It’s my first marathon and I want to make the most of the experience but, as training has progressed and I’ve got faster and gained confidence, there’s a part of me that’s hungry for completing the race in under four hours. But I’m determined not to let that be the focus and won’t be disappointed if I don’t achieve it. Richard keeps telling me the marathon is only the start of my running journey.

What have you learned about yourself and your body by training for this marathon?

I entered the competition because I wanted to find a way to feel positive about my body and enjoy its capabilities, instead of focusing on how I’ve felt that it’s failed me in the past. Someone recently asked me why I was punishing my body by putting it through a marathon but, in truth, it’s the opposite. For me, this journey has been about celebrating my body and enjoying what can be achieved. I hoped the experience would be a positive one, but I really didn’t realise it would be quite so life-changing! Making the decision to stop fertility treatment and begin to face up to a life without children left me feeling lost and like I no longer knew what my purpose was. But being part of the BMC team has given me that purpose and belief back, which is amazing.

The coach’s view

Richard says: “Caroline is pinching herself as the training is going so well. She ran 17 miles in well under four-hour marathon pace recently and the effort felt right. She also ran a half marathon in around 1hr 52mins and was delighted with her time. The cold weather has been challenging for her as she lives out in the countryside, but she’s readjusted well and has come on immensely, and now she’s really looking forward to the marathon. She has got into a training rhythm, which is important for anybody with work and family. Sometimes people put themselves under so much pressure to run a marathon in a certain time and sometimes it works, whereas other times it can be quite daunting. Caroline is still in the early stages of running and there’s going to be plenty more marathons ahead for her. I want her to enjoy the race. We might aim for four hours, but we’ll see. She’s at the start of a long running journey.”

Written by Women's Running Magazine | 1526 articles | View profile

Please comment on this article below