“I Want To Break Out Of The Run/Walk Mindset!”

BMC team member, Elizabeth Ayres talks building confidence, having faith in herself and fundraising for her favourite charity

What made you decide to enter the Big Marathon Challenge (BMC)?

I completed two marathons in April 2017 – Brighton and London – but had to run/ walk them both due to a healing stress fracture. I made it to the finish line, but I knew I could have achieved a better time if I hadn’t been injured. Since the marathons, I’ve not been able to get out of the mindset of run/walk, despite signing up for further races. I constantly feel like a failure and question if I am really a runner or ever can be one.

Tell us a little bit more about your running background.

I began running in January 2017 after being dared to complete a marathon. I thought that running 26.2 miles would be easier than any possible forfeit! I really should have started training much earlier as I couldn’t run for a bus and doing the parents race at school sports day once a year was the most exercise I ever did. But I kept putting it off, thinking I had time. Apart from the two marathons, I also completed the Equinox24 ultra in September 2017.

Are you fundraising for charity?

I am fundraising for Whizz-Kidz (whizz- kidz.org.uk), a charity that provides disability equipment, support and advice to children and young adults. I am part of an online running community called I Run 4 Michael (whoirun4. com) that matches runners with disabled adults and children or their siblings. The who can’t, while also fostering a relationship between a runner and a buddy. I run for a mischievous two-year-old called Ray, who has two siblings with Chiari malformation (a condition that causes structural defects in the base of the skull and the brain), and my eight-year-old son has an amazing runner called Dawn. Being part of the community has opened my eyes to the challenges of those less fortunate than us and I decided I would help raise awareness of disability.

How did you feel about being selected for the challenge?

I was so shocked initially, as the other women shortlisted had amazing stories and I honestly felt they were more deserving than me. Now that it’s finally sunk in, I’m so excited.

What did you think to the recent BMC photoshoot in London?

I felt nervous at first as I hate having my photo taken (which I didn’t think about when I applied!), but everyone really helped to make sure I felt relaxed and had fun. It also brought home fully that I was going to do the BMC. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me as they have faith in me and I will do my best to have faith in myself.

What are you hoping to achieve on race day?

I would love to aim for a time and that may change closer to the marathon. But for the time being, my aim is just to be able to run from start to finish.


Richard says: “Elizabeth only began running earlier this year and so it’s important for her to try not to go from 0 to 1000 within a very short space of time. A lot of runners think if they’re running a marathon they need to run lots. Their bodies often aren’t strong enough to handle it and they don’t develop that strength first. I think that’s where Elizabeth went wrong. It was just too much volume too soon. I have told her it’s OK to use walking breaks. She will use this strategy to help her develop her long runs, but we will be getting her to do similar sessions on a smaller scale.

“The biggest thing for her is to get stronger. There’s no point in her doing lots of running until then. I have asked her to use the elliptical trainer and to avoid lifting her heels up while using it, so that she can engage the rear muscles, including the glutes and hamstrings. She has tried it already and found it hard work, but could feel the benefit. We also need to work on building her confidence. I’m trying to get her to go out and enjoy her runs and not think too far ahead. She needs to think about one session to the next and not worry what’s going to happen on the day of the marathon. Once she’s got more training under her belt, she will build more confidence.”

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